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Greatest Games: Nashville Predators – Welcome To The Big-Time

A one-sided playoff walloping of rival Chicago proved to be a franchise turning point for the Preds.

No. 1 –April 15, 2017 – Nashville 5, Chicago 0

It was one thing when the Predators opened the 2017 playoffs with a win in Chicago. It was something else altogether when they dominated the Blackhawks 5-0 in Game 2. That performance not only fueled their run to the Cup final, it changed their perception of the type of team they were and where they fit in the NHL hierarchy.

For years, Chicago had been a bridge too far for the Preds. The franchises had met twice in the first round – in 2010 and 2015 – and both times Chicago won in six games. In 2017, the Hawks finished 15 points ahead of the Predators in the standings, won four of five regular-season matchups and scored five times in three of those contests.

A 1-0 victory in Game 1 gave Nashville an edge but did not alter the fundamental perception of the matchup, even in the Preds’ dressing room. The Blackhawks limited Nashville to 20 shots, and Pekka Rinne’s performance in net was the primary reason for the outcome.

Game 2 was a different story. The final score was an accurate reflection of a game in which Nashville looked faster, more determined and more skilled. Ryan Ellis opened the scoring early in the first period, and the Preds never looked back. They ousted Chicago in four games for the first sweep in franchise history and didn’t trail in any series in the first three rounds.

In the two seasons since, Nashville has won back-to-back Central Division titles (the first two in team history) and the 2017-18 Presidents’ Trophy. Prior to 2017, playoff losses were disappointing. Since then, post-season failures, such as those in the past two years, have felt like exactly that – failures.

No. 2 – April 22, 2011 – Nashville 4, Anaheim 3 (OT)
Shea weber scored late and Jerred Smithson won it in OT as the Predators’ first playoffovertime victory led to their first series victory two days later.

No. 3 – Feb. 28, 2009 – Nashville 8, Detroit 0
The biggest win in franchise history against the franchise’s first rival. Jason Arnott had a hat trick, Pekka Rinne a 30-save shutout.

GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME

Steve Sullivan
Feb. 18, 2004 – Nashville 7, San Jose 3
Sullivan made quite a first impression. After being acquired in a trade with Chicago, the undersized winger had three goals (all on the power play) and an assist in his Preds debut. Sullivan scored Nashville’s first two goals and completed the hat trick late in the second period. Those were his only shots on goal.

His performance energized the dressing room as the team tried to move beyond its expansion era. Nashville won five of its first six games with Sullivan and ultimately made the playoffs for the first time.

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