Long story short, the Nashville Predators went into D.C. to take on the Washington Capitals and emerged victorious. Saros played fantastically, Smith scored his 24th and 25th goal of the season (career high), and the Predators would come from behind in the 3rd period to win the game 4-3.
This is obviously no typical win as the Predators would clinch many firsts on national television and history would continue after the game was over.
With the win tonight, the Nashville Predators would win their first ever Central Division title, clinch the top spot in the Western Conference, and their first ever President’s trophy, awarded for the best record in the NHL during the regular season. It took the franchise 7118 days to tackle some of the most prestigious awards the NHL has and a season full of hard work came to fruition on this night.
It feels so surreal typing these sentences, “Nashville Predators- Top in the Western Conference” ” Nashville Predators- Central Division Champs” “Nashville Predators- President Trophy Winners”. For most of my entire life, the Predators have always been the little brother that no one thought would amount to much. For most of their lives, the Nashville Predators have been dominated by the likes of the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. We’ve lost heart breaking playoff series to the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks. It seems like just yesterday I remember the anger in Pekka Rinne as he broke his stick against the net after being pulled in a playoff game against the Sharks. But no more.
The Predators are no longer a second tier hockey program. They are one of the most elite and talented teams in the entire NHL and have played like it since bouncing the Chicago Blackhawks from the playoffs in 4 straight games last year. This team has everything you could ask for.
They have one of the most popular and polarizing NHL players in PK Subban. They have a world class goal tender playing his best hockey at 35 years of age. They have the best defensive core in the entire NHL with Subban, Ellis, Josi, and Ekholm. They have a young and dynamic top line with the JOFA line, and have a GM who has been with Nashville since the very beginning.
The Disney movie could write itself about the transformation of hockey in Nashville the last 20 years, but only time will tell if there are more chapters to be written. There is a long and grueling road ahead for both players and fans as the playoffs loom just around the corner, but for one night, the entire hockey world looks up towards the Nashville Predators.
Here’s to many weeks of hockey ahead Predators fans, enjoy tonight. You have earned it.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire