Saturday, April 7, 2012

Preds show mark of mature team with 6-1 win in Colorado

The Nashville Predators closed out the 2011-2012 regular season with a 6-1 win on Saturday night in Colorado. Nashville got goals from David Legwand, Craig Smith, Patric Hornqvist, Roman Josi, Brandon Yip and Matt Halischuk en route to the five-goal victory.

With Chicago's shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon, the Predators knew they had clinched home ice before they had to play their game against the Avalanche. There result of Saturday night's game didn't have any impact on the standings heading into the playoffs, so it would have been easy for the Predators to go through the motions and allow Colorado to get a victory to close out their season. However, the maturity of this Nashville team was evident. They have a killer instinct.

Anders Lindback got the start for the Predators on Saturday night and was brilliant in net. Lindback made 34 saves, and allowed just one goal before his night was cut short by injury. He left the game after registering 42:05 of ice time and did not return for the rest of the night for Nashville. Pekka Rinne was forced into the game, and stopped all 10 shots that he faced in his 17:46 of ice time.

Nashville's top line of Sergei Kostitysn, Mike Fisher and Martin Erat were all scratched on Saturday night. Ryan Ellis and Jack Hillen both played after Francis Bouillon and Hal Gill were scratched to rest up before the playoffs begin.

The Predators will now focus their attention squarely on the Red Wings. Nashville will have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs against Detroit, and have finished ahead of the Red Wings in the standings for the first time in franchise history.

Detroit and Nashville have met in the playoffs on two separate occasions. In both the 2004 and 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Red Wings defeated the Predators in six games. Nashville was an eight seed in both of those playoff series. This time, they have the home ice advantage against Detroit. Time will tell if the result is different.

The schedule for the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be announced on Easter Sunday at noon on the NHL Network.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Craig Smith(NSH)
2. Anders Lindback(NSH)
3. Matt Halischuk(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Anders Lindback(NSH)
2. Craig Smith(NSH)
3. Matt Halischuk(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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