Had they held on, the Predators would have had the series lead coming home for Game 6, but it was not to be. The Blackhawks won Game 6 en route to their first of three Stanley Cups in six seasons.
That first-round win may have been Chicago's most difficult series, as they won eight of their next nine heading into the Final. They won the Cup over Peter Laviolette's Philadelphia Flyers in six games. The important thing for the Predators was that they proved to themselves they could win in the postseason.
In 2010-11, the Predators had their best defensive season, allowing only 2.38 goals per game. They faced the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs. The teams split the first four games of the series, with Game 5 held in Anaheim.
Shea Weber tied it up off a faceoff with 36 seconds left, then Jered Smithson's OT goal (assisted by Jordin Tootoo and Nick Spaling) gave the Predators a 4-3 win and a chance to wrap it up on home ice. A milestone for the franchise was reached on April 24, 2011, with a 4-2 win to give the Predators their first-ever series victory. Nick Spaling had two goals, Steve Sullivan and David Legwand also tallied, and the Predators got to shake hands and move on to the second round.
That next round would involve more travel to the West Coast - Vancouver! The Predators were eliminated in six games by the Canucks, who would advance to the Stanley Cup Final, losing in a tiring, cross-continent series versus Boston in seven games. As it was, the Predators traveled roughly 16,000 air miles in their two series with Anaheim and Vancouver.
Their maturation and "moving up in the hockey world" continued for the Predators in 2011-12. With 104 points in the regular season, the team had the third-best record in the West. With St. Louis winning the Central Division, the Predators were the fourth seed in the West and faced Detroit in the first round.
It was the third time the two teams met in the playoffs, and the Red Wings had prevailed each time in six games. Game 5 was played in Nashville on April 20, 2012. Nashville, this time, left a series with Detroit as the victors.
There was a classic picture from that handshake line, as the captains met, the Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom and the Predators' Shea Weber. It would turn out to be Lidstrom's last NHL game.
Following the elation of the series victory over Detroit, the Predators then faced the Phoenix Coyotes, losing the first two games and ultimately the series in five games. The team's postseason was concluded after 10 contests.
That offseason was a difficult one for the Predators. The Predators had a strong top two on defense, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Both were about to be unrestricted free agents. On July 4, David Poile, on a conference call, announced the departure of Suter to Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Weber signed a 14-year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers. After losing Suter, the Predators were put in a difficult financial spot by one of the League's richest teams. Three weeks after Suter's departure, the Predators announced they would match the Flyers' offer.
The next season was truncated to 48 games with the NHL's work stoppage and the Predators finished 16-23-9 and out of the playoffs. They rebounded with 88 points in 2013-14, but missed the postseason by three points. That resulted in this announcement from Preds General Manager David Poile on April 14, 2014:
On May 6, 2014, Poile named Laviolette the Predators' second head coach. Laviolette had previously spent 12 seasons heading up the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and took the Flyers to the Cup Final in 2010. Poile was familiar with him as both had worked on Team USA's 2014 Olympic team.
Laviolette's first Predators team finished with 104 points and a first-round meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks. They lost in six games, but things looked promising.
In 2016, the Predators' maturation continued, and the entertainment level increased as well.
Nashville wowed the hockey world with their hosting of the NHL All-Star Game in late January. With 96 points, they were the first Wild Card team in the West, and once again, they would meet the Anaheim Ducks. That brought them to their first Game 7 in team history, and they won it on the road, where they took three of four games in that series.
Next up was San Jose, and maybe the most memorable game up to that point in Predators history. Game 4 started on May 5 at Bridgestone Arena. It ended early the following morning.
That evened the series. Back home for Game 6, the Predators required some more overtime magic.
Two nights later in San Jose, the Sharks beat the Predators in Game 7, 5-0. That Sharks team would go on to beat the St. Louis Blues, but would lose to the Penguins in the Cup Final.
That summer, Davis Poile pulled off one of the biggest one-for-one deals in NHL history. On June 29, the Predators sent their 30-year-old captain to the Montreal Canadiens for 27-year-old P.K. Subban.
The following season would turn out to be something special, but it didn't appear that way at first glance. The team finished with 94 points, just making it into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team and eighth seed in the conference. That brought about their third playoff meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks.
No disappointments this time - they swept the Blackhawks! Pekka Rinne shut out Chicago in both games at the United Center, so the Predators never had to listen to Chelsea Dagger, the Blackhawks' goal song. The Predators won Game 3 in OT at Bridgestone Arena. When the series ended, Rinne had only allowed three Chicago goals.
Round Two brought Nashville's first-ever playoff meeting with St. Louis, and a fearsome injury. The Predators took Game 1 in St. Louis, but lost winger Kevin Fiala to a broken femur. Veteran Vernon Fiddler got the game-winner to get the series started. The Blues won Game 2, but the Predators took both games at home for a 3-1 lead. The Blues forced Game 6 back in Nashville, and the Predators prevailed, 3-1.
Nashville was 8-2 in the postseason and had to wait for the Ducks and Oilers to decide their series. Five days later, the Predators began their third postseason series with Anaheim.
As expected, it was a physical series. Indeed, in Game 4, Ryan Johansen suffered a season-ending injury to his thigh and the Predators' depth was further tested. Johansen had been the team's leading scorer in the postseason with 13 points.
Colton Sissons stepped up with a hat trick in Game 6 to send the Predators to the Stanley Cup Final. At that point, their opponent was undetermined. Ottawa and Pittsburgh had only completed five games of their series. After two overtimes in Game 7, the Penguins advanced to their second Cup Final in as many years.
It appeared the Predators were following the script written by the 2012 Los Angeles Kings. The Kings made the playoffs on the final day of the season. They then knocked off No. 1 seed Vancouver, No. 2 seed St. Louis, and No. 3 seed Phoenix (which had just eliminated the Predators in Round Two), losing only two games before their Cup Final match up with New Jersey and their first Cup in team history.
After dropping the first two games of the Final in Pittsburgh, Nashville came back home and tied the series.
The atmosphere was positively electric before Game 3. Why wouldn't it be? The Predators had competed in 85 playoff games before earning the right to go for Lord Stanley's Cup!
The defending-champion Penguins held serve at home in Game 5, then wrapped up another Cup with a 2-0 win on June 11. Sixty days of adrenaline had been spent, and the Predators season was completed later than it ever had been before. Indeed, it was time to say thank you and goodbye.
A few nights later, at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Poile received the General Manager of the Year Award.
The Predators followed that season up with the team's first Presidents' Trophy, their fifth season compiling more than 100 points, and topping the League with a club record 117. They were better in every major statistical category than the previous season.
Rinne won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender, determined by a vote of NHL General Managers. He went 42-13-4 with a 2.31 goals against average and stopped 92.7 percent of the shots he faced.
The 2017-18 team featured four 20-goal scorers (Viktor Arvidsson, 29; Filip Forsberg, 26; Craig Smith, 25, and Kevin Fiala with 23). Kyle Turris was acquired in a three-team trade with Ottawa and Colorado on Nov. 5, and he helped ignite Smith's and Fiala's seasons. The team registered a franchise-record 53 wins.
As the top seed in the West, it would be Preds versus the Avalanche in Round One of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Predators led the series, 3-1 heading into Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena. The Avs and goaltender Andrew Hammond (44 saves) surprised Nashville and Sven Andrighetto scored with 1:28 left in the third period to force a sixth game for the Avalanche in a 2-1 triumph.
The Predators prevailed in Game 6 in Denver, as Pekka Rinne stopped all 22 shots in a 5-0 series clincher. Next up was the Winnipeg Jets, who had finished just three points behind the Predators in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
The series with Winnipeg painfully pointed out that home-ice advantage was relatively meaningless. The Predators lost the series in seven games, the final one at Bridgestone Arena, where they were 1-3 in the series. The Predators became the third consecutive Presidents' Trophy winner to lose out in Round Two.
The 2018-19 season delivered more success for the Predators. They won their second consecutive Central Division title, with 100 points, and had the second seed in the Western Conference.
In December in Nashville, the United States Hockey Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony in Nashville. Predators General Manager David Poile was among the inductees.
It turned out that it wasn't good for teams to win their divisions that season. Each Division winner was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. In the East, the Presidents' Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning - the most dominant regular-season team in many seasons - was swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The defending Cup champion Washington Capitals were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes.
In the West, top-seeded Calgary lost in five to the emerging (and Wild Card) Colorado Avalanche, and the Predators, the second seed in the West, lost in six games to the Wild Card Dallas Stars.
It ended on a Monday night, April 22, at the American Airlines Center.
The last 10 years have delivered some of the greatest moments in franchise history and truly turned Nashville into a hockey town. Let's see how the Predators third decade matches up to its second!