Gritty Preds Steal Game One In St. Louis

Posted at 11:06 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 00:18:52-04

Sometimes you need to show some guts in the playoffs. That's exactly what the Predators did in taking game one of their second round series against the Blues Thursday night.

In the opening round sweep of the Blackhawks, everything came easy for the Preds. Lineup decisions worked, stars played well, goals piled up in bunches. But this was different.

Sure, the Predators jumped to a fast start, outshooting the Blues 26-14 after the opening few minutes while building a 3-1 lead. But this win did not come without a battle.

The Blues came out with a vengeance in the third period, firing 18 of the first 21 shots, two of which found their way past Pekka Rinne off the sticks of Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka.

But with the score tied 3-3 and just over 10:00 left in a rocking Scottrade Center, the Predators never panicked. They just stuck with the gameplan, coming in waves until fourth line center Vernon Fiddler poked a loose puck past an unsuspecting Jake Allen for what proved to be the game-winner with 5:05 to play.

It was the 36-year-old Fiddler's first playoff goal as a Predator in exactly 10 years and six days, and it proved just how deep this team is.

Fiddler didn't even play in the opening round against Chicago as Peter Laviolette elected to go with a speedier lineup. But against the heavier Blues, the veteran the Preds call "Fidds" found himself back in the playoff spotlight and made it count.

And Fiddler wasn't the only new addition to the lineup who made his presence felt. Colin Wilson made his 2017 playoff debut after missing the Blackhawks series with a lower body injury and showed why he's been given the nickname "Playoffs Colin Wilson". Wilson re-directed a P.K. Subban slapshot for the game's first goal. It was his 19th point in 21 playoff games.

In all, 23 different Predators have now skated in the playoffs. Eighteen of them have been credited with a point, 10 have scored goals, including five different game-winners through the first five games.

Add in star performances of Filip Forsberg, who had another goal, Subban, who posted his first three-point game (goal, two assists) as a Predator, or Rinne, who had another 27 saves, and you see why the Predators have gone from eight seed to contender.

The Predators did not win five straight games at any point during the regular season. They've now won the first five games of the playoffs.

And just stole home ice advantage again.