Friday, April 20, 2012

Bourque continues impressive playoff debut in series-clinching win

The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings by a 2-1 score on Friday night in front of an incredibly loud crowd at Bridgestone Arena to win their second postseason series in franchise history. Nashville got goals from Alexander Radulov and David Legwand to propel them to a series-clinching victory.

With the win, the Predators will now have some time off before the second round begins. Nashville is the first team in the NHL to advance to the second round this season, which will give them a chance to get some much-needed rest before their next series. By winning in Game 5, the Predators showed a killer instinct that championship teams have. They didn't want to have to go to Detroit to play Game 6 on Sunday, and they took care of business on home ice.

"We knew it wouldn't be easy to go back there. I think it's good for us. We get some rest and be ready for the next round. That was huge tonight," said Predators rookie forward Gabriel Bourque.

The line of Bourque, Legwand and Radulov was the difference for the Predators on Friday night. They scored both of Nashville's goals and had good offensive pressure on Jimmy Howard all night. Radulov was able to score at 16:10 of the first period to give the Predators the lead. After Detroit tied the game at one in the second period, Legwand scored just 13 seconds into the third period to give the Predators a lead they wouldn't relinquish. That line was brilliant for the Predators all night long.

"At this point of the year, you just have to go as hard as you can. I think we did a great job of communicating all over the ice and I think we worked well tonight," Bourque said.

After scoring three goals in the first four games of the series, Bourque added an assist on Friday night to continue his impressive rookie debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bourque's gritty play has allowed him to make an instant impact with the Predators at just 21 years of age.

"It's awesome. I didn't expect to get that many goals. I'm happy but I'm more happy to win. That's a big win here in the first round and we just have to do the same thing in the second round," Bourque said.

The atmosphere in Bridgestone Arena on Friday night was sensational. The crowd gave three of their famous TV timeout standing ovations in the third period to push the Predators over the top. It was deafening in Smashville.

"It was pretty awesome tonight. After five minutes left in the game, it was crazy. You can't hear on the bench. Just so much energy for everybody. Everybody was cranking it up and the seventh man did a really good job tonight," Bourque said.

Nashville has been chasing Detroit since coming into the league. They have always been the standard by which the Predators have aspired to reach. After finishing ahead of the Red Wings in the regular season for the first time this year and beating them in the first round of the playoffs, it's very obvious that the Predators aren't afraid of Detroit any more.

"I think we've grown to the point where we have great respect for the Detroit Red Wings, but we're not in awe of them," said Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz.

The Predators will find out who their second round opponent is over the course of the next few days. After that matchup is determined, Nashville will try to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. David Legwand(NSH)
2. Alexander Radulov(NSH)
3. Pekka Rinne(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. David Legwand(NSH)
2. Alexander Radulov(NSH)
3. Pekka Rinne(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)