Filip Forsberg scored three goals for Nashville's first hat trick of the season, and the Predators finished off the best regular season in franchise history by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 Saturday night.
While the Avalanche recorded better power play and penalty kill stats during the regular season, it was the Predators who tallied a man-advantage goal and kept the Colorado power playoff off the scoreboard. Rinne was an eighth-round draft pick in 2004.
In game one of their opening round Stanley Cup series, Nashville knew that Colorado was fast and talented, but as all teams try to do against Nashville, a quick start and a quick strike is what they aim for. Rinne seemed to settle the Predators down with a big save with 20 seconds left in the period, stopping Tyson Jost's shot from the slot before sticking his right skate to the post with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog trying to pounce on the puck.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he'd never coached a team that won the Presidents' Trophy before. This team has next to zero chance of winning a seven-game series against Nashville, but maybe the Avs will steal a game or two early to make it interesting. That winning percentage, ranked second in the National Hockey League so far this season, is a solid improvement compared to how the team performed during last year's regular season (41-41). And yet here we are now, a year later, and no one is anxious about anyone more than they are the Presidents' Trophy-winning Predators. He is averaging more than a point-per-game for his career against Colorado.
What is the Avalanche vs. Predators schedule?. But behind a raucous sellout crowd looking for a second consecutive run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Preds wore the Avs down, with Forsberg leading the way.
Colorado would love nothing more than to prove the naysayers wrong.
"Everyone who was here last year is a year older, a year better, and all the guys that they brought in have been great additions and really created a big impact on this team".
The Avalanche responded 95 seconds later by regaining the lead. If they take the Avalanche lightly again, though, this could become an entirely different series. Beginning with the NHL Playoffs, Bridgestone Arena will display a catfish tank near sections 117 and 118. Both have valuable playoff experience and were key components in the Avs' resurgence. Playing a team like the Predators as a wild card is a nightmare scenario, and I don't see the Avalanche shocking the world. Former Predators defenseman Samuel Girard has stepped in admirably for Johnson. Johansen has been more of a B+ than an A+ since coming to Nashville - though he was excellent in the 2017 playoffs. There were some injury concerns for Viktor Arvidsson, but he was a healthy scratch over the weekend and should be ready to go. The outlook could shift quickly if Gibson is not 100 per cent. San Jose's trade-deadline pickup of Evander Kane could also do wonders for its scoring depth.
"I think our guys are well aware of what went on a year ago", Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. The over is 13-3-1 in the last 17 games versus the Avs in Nashville. The playoffs are weird but don't expect any miracles Avalanche fans.
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