Saturday, April 23, 2011
Report from Nashville: The Agony and the Ecstasy
Games Four and Five
by Marie Miesel
Game 4 was also in Smashville. Good crowd though a little nervous. Could the Preds take a 3-1 series lead? Would our Vezina trophy candidate goalie get back to his regular season form? Would our D hold up under the onslaught of the Perry Express and the Finnish Flash? For two periods we held on, but in the third the flood gates opened starting with a shorthanded goal from Corey Perry. When it was all said and done the Ducks came away with a 6-3 win. Visions of previous playoff failures danced in our heads that night.
Game 5 was back in Anaheim. We scored the first goal; a pretty pass from Jordin Tootoo to Kevin Klein put us up 1-0 after one. The Ducks Jason Blake scored on the PP to even things up in the second. Poor Shane O’Brien. He’s taken a penalty in every game and the Ducks have scored on the ensuing PP each time. Love his toughness but his hockey IQ perhaps isn’t the highest. Tied 1-1 going into the third, Pred Nation held it’s breath as the period began. Forty seconds into the period, Bobby Ryan, back after a two game suspension, scored what many consider to be the goal of the playoffs so far. Poor David Legwand, he was still looking for his shorts on the way to the plane. And can I just say that I really hate it when our team ends up being on someone else’s highlight reel.
We fought back. Joel Ward tied it up. The Ducks re-took the lead on another Jason Blake goal. Most of us figured oh well we’re done. Another playoff failure. But something magical happened. History was made. With 38 seconds left, with our goalie on the bench, Mike Fisher wins the faceoff in the Ducks zone. The puck makes it way to our Captain Shea Weber who wrists it past Ray Emery. Tie Game! Less than 2 minutes into the overtime period, Jordin Tootoo fishes the puck out from the left half wall and puts it on Jerred Smithson’s stick. Jerred buries it for a 4-3 win. The first Game 5 win, the first OT win, and the first time we have been up 3-2 in a series. NHL.com even has a “History will be Made” commercial for us now. History believes in firsts.
Now for fans like Lisa Ovens and Jan Snyder, Game 5 wins and first round series wins are old hat. They’ve been there before. We haven’t. We’ve watched the handshake with the winning team on our ice five times. We are a blue collar, non superstar team from a small non-traditional market. As I said in a previous column, these guys are our family. We rejoice and mourn with them. We fought tooth and nail to keep the team here when everyone outside of Nashville wanted them moved. And to be this close to breaking through and proving that we do belong is exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
But at 5 pm CT today, the Bridge will be rocking once again. And I and my fellow citizens of Pred Nation will be there, hoping that history will be made once again.