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Predators 4, Ducks 3: Nashville takes 3-2 series lead on Jerred Smithson's OT winner

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The Nashville Predators forged new ground with their 4-3 overtime win tonight in Anaheim. Check off the first playoff overtime win in the history of the franchise, their first time winning 3 games in a series, etc. But most importantly, on Sunday afternoon at 5:00 in Nashville, they'll have their first-ever chance to eliminate an opponent and move on to the second round of the playoffs.

Along the way, however, this was an emotional roller coaster of epic proportions. There were heroes, and goats, and nefarious villains galore. Follow after the jump for the video highlights and reaction!

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Let's begin with the video highlights and Predators vs Ducks boxscore:

A few thoughts on tonight's game:

  • I was glad to see Barry Trotz follow my advice and go with J.P. Dumont over Colin Wilson. He didn't get a ton of ice time, but J.P. did put a couple shots on net.
  • Perhaps the best forward in the early going was Jordin Tootoo, who made a tremendous play to set up Kevin Klein (kudos for driving the net, Kleiner) on the opening score. A couple minutes prior to that, he also executed a one-man dump & chase and ended up feeding Shea Weber at the point for a nice shot.
  • While it was disappointing to see Ryan Suter head to the box for a slash to the hands of Corey Perry, the penalty killers came up strong. If the Preds are going to make headway in these playoffs, their PK has to return to form.
  • Speaking of penalties, Shane O`Brien proved a liability once again, getting caught wide which led to a tripping call, with Anaheim converting on the resulting power play to tie the game. As I mentioned before, without any spare defensemen on the roster, Barry Trotz doesn't even have the option of benching SOB.
  • Wow, was that start of the 3rd period even worse than Wednesday's? Simply a disgusting play watching Bobby Ryan come through center ice and undress David Legwand a couple times on the way in to score. The Legwand-haters just got themselves a nice highlight to use & abuse for years to come.
  • As bad that was, could Joel Ward's goal have been any sweeter? You have to love the presence of mind to pick up his own rebound and fire it right away.
  • On the ensuing 3rd goal for Anaheim, it looked like there was a bit of debris on the ice that Jonathon Blum was sweeping out of the way as Selanne made his centering pass. If that pass gets blocked, no goal. Them's the breaks, though.
  • Things were looking downright miserable as the Preds pulled Rinne in the final minute, down 3-2 and desperately worked for any chances they could get, but that goal by Weber was a thing of beauty. A nice faceoff win, followed by forwards going to the front of the net to screen Ray Emery, who never had a chance on the shot.
  • Overall, Pekka Rinne had a solid but not spectacular outing, with 23 saves on 26 Anaheim shots. Do we look at that as the "ace in the hole" heading into Sunday?
  • As for the overtime winner? Just as at the beginning of the game, Jordin Tootoo put together a tremendous shift, first getting loose down the left side for a dangerous shot & rebound chance, then camping out below the goal line to eventually set up the Smithson goal.
  • It's funny because the Tootoo-Smithson-Spaling line got a shift with about two minutes left in regulation when the Preds really needed a goal, and I was thinking to myself "why are these pluggers out there?" Well, they sure came through in OT!
  • You have to love the emotion shown on the Preds broadcast after the game. When asked to recap the goal, Smithson simply responded "I don't know, I blacked out." Pete Weber's voice was strained with excitement, and I've never seen Barry Trotz as relaxed (dare I say almost giddy?) in a post-game Q&A with Pete & Terry. I remember Scott Bowman as being one of the most stoic coaches I've ever seen in any sport, but an OT winner always got him excited. This is what these guys live for.
  • For your advanced even-strength stats, head over to Time On Ice. The Predators absolutely dominated at even-strength, outshooting the Ducks 32-22, and that's reflected in some of the individual results.