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playoffs

Arvidsson unlikely hero for Predators in Game 6

Rookie scores 2:03 into OT to force Game 7 against Sharks

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

Arvidsson's overtime winner

SJS@NSH, Gm6: Arvidsson's backhander wins it in OT

R2, Gm6: Viktor Arvidsson roofs a backhander from the left circle past Martin Jones in overtime to give the Predators a 4-3 victory in Game 6

  • 02:18 •

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators were ecstatic to see Viktor Arvidsson score 2:03 into overtime of Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.

Yes, they were happy for the 23-year-old Swedish rookie, who scored the first Stanley Cup Playoff goal of his career to force Game 7 in this Western Conference Second Round series, but they were almost as excited that the goal came so quickly.

"That was the second-most exciting part of him scoring, is that it was in the first three minutes," Nashville left wing Colin Wilson said. "We get to get to bed at a regular time. It's big to get that out of the way early."

In case anyone has forgotten, the last time the Predators and Sharks played at Bridgestone Arena, in Game 4 on Thursday, Nashville won on Mike Fisher's goal at 11:12 of the third overtime.

Arvidsson had been good throughout the series against the Sharks but didn't have any tangible results to show for the work. He was among the most dangerous players during overtime of Game 4 and one of the few bright spots for Nashville in a dispiriting Game 5 loss in San Jose on Saturday.

Still, it was a bit shocking to many that Arvidsson found himself on the top line, playing with center Ryan Johnasen and Filip Forsberg, for Game 6.

Coach Peter Laviolette, though, had a hunch and he played it.

"We just had a feeling that Arvidsson was going to be a nonstop worker out there and use his speed to get in on the forecheck and make things happen," Laviolette said. "It was great for him. He is so much fun to watch."

That was the consensus in the dressing room as well. Everyone agrees that Arvidsson is among the Predators' fastest skaters and among their best-conditioned. But he had yet to translate those skills into a full package.

He admittedly is a work in progress; he has eight goals and 16 points in 62 career regular-season NHL games and had one assist in his first 12 playoff games entering Monday.

Not exactly the resume of a playoff hero.

That, however, is what makes the spring such a special time.

Arvidsson grabbed his opportunity, using his speed to beat San Jose forward Melker Karlsson to a puck at the Sharks blue line. Then he was able to get position on defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic before launching a picture-perfect backhand that ticked off goalie Martin Jones' shoulder and nestled just inside the far post for a 4-3 win.

"He played with a lot of fire," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. "He was skating like he always is. He's so fast and so explosive. That overtime goal was a good example of that. An amazing shot on his backhand too. That's not an easy shot to do."

Arvidsson, who was mobbed by his teammates behind the San Jose net, forced to endure celebratory face washes and bear hugs after his heroics, couldn't believe his good fortune after it was over.

"I tried to get it on net and I got a really good touch on it and it went over his shoulder," he said. "It was nice to see it go in."

That's because it extended the Nashville season for at least another three days. Game 7 is in San Jose on Thursday.

Arvidsson said the Predators will use the rallies in Game 6, from 2-0 and 3-2, to fuel their fire in a winner-takes-all Game 7.

"We believe in each other and we believe in our game plan, and I think we really hung in there today and we kept playing our game," he said.

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