The Nashville Predators have knocked off the Colorado Avalanche and advanced to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Predators defeated the Avalanche by a final score of 5-0 on Sunday, sending a decisive message and setting up a second round series against the Winnipeg Jets.
The win was a blowout, one of quite a few in the first round of this year’s playoffs, and the top-seeded club took the victory with relative ease.
Goalie Pekka Rinne made 22 saves in the shutout victory, while Colorado’s third-stringer Andrew Hammond wasn’t able to replicate past magic. Coming off a 44-save performance in Game Five to prolong the series, many thought the Hamburglar could get it done and force a seventh game.
But it was not to be.
The Predators got goals in all the right places on Sunday, with Mattias Ekholm opening the scoring early. The offensive deluge didn’t let up for the Avalanche and they couldn’t find an answer for Nashville’s scorers. Austin Watson was among them, with another goal on Sunday for a total of four goals and seven points in the series.
11 of the Predators’ forwards had at least a point in the round.
Colorado will be disappointed, but one of the youngest teams in the NHL has a lot to be proud of. Expectations were low(ish) this season and the Avalanche responded by finding their way into a playoff berth when few thought they could. They hung in there against the Predators, but hockey’s hottest team was too much for them in the end.
Nashville almost put this thing to bed in Game Five, but the Avalanche showed tenacity and scored two goals late in that contest.
This time, there was no mistake and the Predators ensured they had the goals to swing the victory. They gave themselves breathing room and then some and will now set their sights on Winnipeg.
And the bad news there, if you’re a Jets fan, is that Nashville pretty much owns the Canadian club. They’re 3-1-1 against the ‘Peg this season and finally have some defensive contributions on the scoreboard. That should set up a dramatic series, especially if Winnipeg’s roaring fanbase has anything to say about it.