OTF March Madness: Best Games in Preds History (Elite Eight)

The Ocho

Tonight would have been the culmination of March Madness; the national title game for the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  Sadly, that won’t be happening.  But the fine folks here at On The Forecheck are keeping the spirit of the tournament alive with a bracket of our own.  We’re looking to crown the best game in Nashville Predators history, and we need YOU to decide who wins!

Today, we’re down to our elite eight.  So far, a lot of these match-ups have been unpredictable.  We’ve had a number of old school classics — some we thought might have gone as far as the final two — upset in favor of more recent games.

Will the upsets continue?  Or will we see more “chalk” headed into the final four?  You know the drill!  Vote and let us know!

The “Campbell Bowl” Bracket

#1 Preds Head to the Stanley Cup Final (May 22, 2017)

A hot start in front of a wild crowd, a recovery from a near-collapse, a hat trick from an unlikely hero, and to cap it all off... a trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. There’s a reason this game is our top overall seed.

The Predators put away the Anaheim Ducks in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals thanks to a game for the ages. The Ducks had rallied back from a 3-1 hole late in the third period, and had most of the momentum. But Colton Sissons would step up to play hero, scoring his third goal of the game with six minutes left to give the Preds the lead once and for all. Filip Forsberg’s empty net goal from his own end of the ice sealed the deal, the Predators won 4-2, and got to celebrate with the Clarence Campbell Trophy... all in front of a raucous Bridgestone Arena crowd.

#6 Pekka Scores! (January 9, 2020)

One moment can make an entire game memorable, and that’s what puts this game on the list.

The image of Pekka Rinne handling the puck behind his net, settling into position, and rocketing a shot 200 feet into the Blackhawks’ empty net will forever be ingrained into our memories. (The celebration afterwards may be even better.) But the goal was just the cherry on top for Rinne, who made 29 saves to preserve Nashville’s 5-2 win over Chicago. This wound up being John Hynes’s first win behind the Predators’ bench... not a bad night overall.

Which Game Was Better?

#1 Preds Head to the Stanley Cup Final66
#6 Pekka Scores!9

The “Angry Hockey” Bracket

#4 Fiala Caps Game 3 Comeback (April 17, 2017)

If you’re someone who loves to ponder alternate realities and fantasize “what if” scenarios, look no further than this game. Because if this comeback didn’t happen, who knows how the 2017 playoffs play out.

The Predators returned to Bridgestone Arena with a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks, thanks to back-to-back shutouts from Pekka Rinne. But twelve minutes into Game 3, it was the Blackhawks who stole momentum with two early goals. For two periods, it looked like Chicago was going to make this a series. That is — until Filip Forsberg took over the game. Forsberg scored twice in the second period, including the game-tying goal with just over five minutes left. In overtime, Kevin Fiala maneuvered his way around a sprawling Corey Crawford to bury the game-winner, giving the Predators a 3-0 series lead, and paving the way to the first sweep in franchise history.

#3 Predators’ First Game Seven Win (April 27, 2016)

It’s hard to believe that the Predators had played in ten playoff series before finally seeing one that lasted seven games. But hey, better late than never! The Preds’ first round series against the Anaheim Ducks wasn’t their smoothest playoff showing. They had a 2-0 series lead before dropping three straight to the Ducks, then gritted out a Game 6 win to force a seventh and deciding game in Anaheim.

The game itself proved to be a reflection of the whole series. Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad put the Preds up early, but Anaheim took control of the game quickly after that. It became clear that Pekka Rinne was going to have to deliver a performance for the ages to keep the Preds in front. Spoiler alert — that’s what happened.

Rinne made 36 saves, including two point blank chances on Corey Perry with a minute left to preserve the Predators’ 2-1 win, and propel them into round 2.

Which Game Was Better?

#4 Fiala Caps Game 3 Comeback40
#3 Predators’ First Game Seven Win36

The “Dramatic Overtime Thriller” Bracket

#1 Fisher Wins It In Triple-OT (May 5, 2016)

Lower Broadway’s bars may have experienced the biggest after-midnight Cinco de Mayo rush ever, thanks to the final shot of the longest game in Nashville Predators’ history.

Mike Fisher’s rebound goal 111:12 into Game 4 gave the Predators a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, and leveled the second round series at two games apiece. It was the Predators’ third multi-OT game in a two-year span, and the first they had won since 2011.

While the lasting memory of this game will forever be Fisher’s goal, it’s the rest of the action that helps make this an instant classic. A wild Smashville crowd willed the Preds to an early 2-1 lead, only for the Sharks to battle back and take a late lead. But James Neal’s goal with just over four minutes left sent the game to overtime.

The three overtimes had their fair share of scares as well. The Sharks had a would-be game-winning goal overturned due to goalie interference, and Pekka Rinne was forced to make several highlight-reel stops during two San Jose power play opportunities.

Play-by-play announcer Chris Cuthbert summed this up by saying “we’ve seen everything.” It’s hard to disagree.

#7 Rinne Gets Win #300 in 7-1 Win (February 22, 2018)

Midway through the 2017-2018 season, it became clear Pekka Rinne would become the 34th goaltender in NHL history to cross the 300-win plateau. But how it happened raised a few eyebrows.

The Predators hosted the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena with Pekka’s milestone on their mind. Most expected a close, back-and-forth game. But that showdown never happened. The Predators dominated from start to finish, beating the Sharks 7-1, and putting 46 shots on Aaron Dell. Rinne did get his moment in the sun afterwards via a standing ovation from the Smashville faithful after the game.

Which Game Was Better?

#1 Fisher Wins It In Triple-OT70
#7 Rinne Gets Win #300 in 7-1 Win4

The “You’ll Always Remember Your First” Bracket

#1 The First Cup Game in Smashville (June 3, 2017)

From the sea of gold on Lower Broadway, to the Preds flags adorning every business and restaurant in Middle Tennessee... this was a straight-up party for Preds fans. And the game that followed only cemented this as one of the most memorable moments in Tennessee sports history.

The Penguins had a 2-0 lead entering Game 3, and an early goal from Jake Guentzel put a damper on the celebration. But goals from Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau 42 seconds apart gave the Preds a lead, and from there, the rout was on. James Neal, Craig Smith, and Mattias Ekholm all added goals to give Nashville a 5-1 win, and a moment fans would remember forever.

#3 The First Playoff Series Win (April 24, 2011)

The Predators had never won more than two games in a playoff series. But thanks to some dramatics in the previous Game 5 (which we covered in Round 1 - Part 1), the Predators had a chance to get their first series win. And they got to do it in front of their home crowd.

Like the prior game, Game 6 against the Anaheim Ducks came down to the final moments. Nick Spaling put the Predators up 3-2 early in the third period, but the Ducks wouldn’t back down, peppering Pekka Rinne for the final ten minutes. Finally, with ten seconds left, David Legwand secured the series win with an empty-net goal. In the words of Pete Weber... “Yo, Adrienne, they did it!”

Which Game Was Better?

#1 The First Cup Game in Smashville50
#3 The First Playoff Series Win22