Jan. 8, 2004: York scores in OT, Mason Records First NHL Win
At the midpoint of the 2003-04 season, the Predators won a statement game against one of the top teams in the Western Conference, overcoming an early two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 4-3, in Nashville. Defenseman Jason York provided the sudden-death heroics, while goaltender Chris Mason recorded his first NHL victory by stopping 31 shots.
With Tomas Vokoun, who had started the previous 21 games, out of the lineup with the flu, Mason manned the pipes for the first time at hockey's highest level, and brought home the win.
The victory was the beginning of something special, as the Predators went 8-2-2 in the next 12 games, positioning themselves for the first playoff berth in franchise history.
Feb. 16 & 18, 2004: Sullivan Acquired, Registers Hat Trick in Debut
The Predators got quite a steal on Feb. 16, 2004, when they acquired Steve Sullivan from the Chicago Blackhawks for a pair of draft picks. A trade made to bolster the offense for a push toward the first playoff berth in franchise history, "Sully" made an immediate impact, posting a hat trick and assisting on another goal in his first game as Pred two days later in a 7-3 victory over the Sharks.
"You look for turning points in franchise history, and I think everybody to a man felt that Steve Sullivan's first game with the Predators, when he scored a hat trick against San Jose was a turning point for our franchise," said Nashville General Manager David Poile upon re-signing Sullivan to a four-year contract on Aug. 16, 2005. "It was a day where we all felt we were going to make the playoffs, and that we had taken it up a notch with a quality player."
April 11, 2004: Preds Register First Playoff Win
Tomas Vokoun was spectacular, stopping 41 shots, and Adam Hall scored the game-winning goal with 15 seconds left in the first period as the Predators knocked off the rival Red Wings, 3-1, to claim the first playoff victory in franchise history in front of a rocking sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators were outshot 42-21, but Vokoun was masterful, stopping 22 shots in the third period alone. David Legwand got the scoring started with a shorthanded marker at 18:23 of the opening frame, and Scott Hartnell added an insurance marker at 16:03 of the third.
April 13, 2004: First Playoff Shutout, Nashville Ties Series with Detroit
The sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena was as loud as ever for Game Four of the Predators first-ever playoff series, which saw Tomas Vokoun stop 41 shots to shutout the heavily-favored Detroit Red Wings, and knot their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at 2-2.
Steve Sullivan notched the first goal of the game at 10:44 of the first, and Vladimir Orszagh and Greg Johnson followed suit with goals of their own in Nashville's 3-0 victory.
The Predators were outshot 41-20 for the game, and a combined 83-41 in the two games in Music City, but Vokoun was a brick wall, stopping all but one of the shots he faced to send the series back to Detroit tied.
Oct. 8, 2005: Kariya Beats Ducks in Franchise's First Shootout Win
When the NHL returned to action in 2005-06, several fan-friendly changes had been made to the game. Among them was the use of the shootout to decide games that remained tied after a five-minute, 4-on-4 overtime session.
Predators fans got their first taste of the shootout early on in 2005-06, and the scene was a dramatic one. Nashville's newest superstar Paul Kariya, who joined the Predators as a free agent during the summer of 2005, scored the game-deciding shootout goal against the Anaheim Ducks, the team he starred on for nine seasons.
Oct. 2005: Preds Win Eight Straight to Open Season
After the NHL lockout of 2004-05, the Preds returned with a vengeance, winning their first eight games of the season, claiming points in nine straight and posting an overall record of 8-1-1 in October. Not only was the eight-game run a franchise record for the longest winning streak, it tied the Predators for the third-best start in NHL history at the time, behind only the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.
"The guys are playing with a lot of confidence," Scott Hartnell said in the midst of the winning streak. "Everyone is doing their best every night to keep the streak alive."
The stretch included three shootout victories against Western Conference foes Anaheim, Phoenix and St. Louis, and three additional one-goal wins against San Jose (twice) and Colorado. The Predators were most clutch during crunch time, outscoring their opponent 11-4 in the third period.
Jan. 24, 2006: Kariya Scores in OT, Preds Sweep Two-game Set in Motor City
Paul Kariya put a backhand shot past goaltender Manny Legace 35 seconds into overtime to give the Predators a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings and a sweep of back-to-back games at Joe Louis Arena. The Predators overcame a 1-0 deficit with a shorthanded tally by Steve Sullivan midway through the second period, and goaltender Tomas Vokoun was spectacular throughout, stopping 38 of 39 Detroit shots.
With the victory, Nashville improved to 31-12-6 on the season and matched the Wings 68 points which put them atop the Western Conference standings.
March 9, 2006: Legwand Scores Six Seconds into OT
David Legwand etched his name in NHL record books for the second time with extra-time heroics in a 3-2 overtime victory at Vancouver. Five years and two months after becoming the first player to net an overtime penalty-shot goal, the Predators first-ever draft pick beat Alex Auld just six seconds into sudden death, setting a record for quickest goal from the start of overtime.
The quick tally came when Legwand intercepted Nolan Baumgartner's errant pass just inside the Vancouver blue line and used Bryan Allen as a screen, snapping a shot past Auld's blocker from just inside the faceoff circle.
"Baumgartner looked like it got stuck to his stick, like he double hit it, and it came right to me," Legwand said. "I just knew to get it over Bryan Allen's knee pad there and see what could happen, and I don't think Alex Auld saw the shot."
March 18, 2006: Preds Tie Offensive High, Beat Flames, 9-4
With a crucial, Western Conference matchup tied 4-4 midway through the game, the Nashville Predators poured it on, scoring five unanswered goals to tie a franchise record with a 9-4 victory.
"We've talked about expecting the unexpected a little bit," Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz said "We've always had a 2-1, 3-2 sort of game with Calgary. Obviously, that's not really what happened tonight. It was sort of whoever would get the last power play would win the game, it seemed like."
Mike Sillinger led the offensive assault, tallying four assists, two of which came on the power play, which finished the evening 3-for-9. Three other Preds notched three-point games, led by Paul Kariya's two goals and an assist.
April 6 & 11, 2006: Mason Shuts Out St. Louis Twice in Five-day Span
When Chris Mason found out he would be assuming the starting goaltender's position due to Tomas Vokoun's injury, he not only stepped up to the plate, but thrived during a late-season playoff push that included six-straight victories. Among those wins were a pair of shutouts, both coming at St. Louis' Scottrade Center, in a span of five days.
On April 6, the Red Deer, Alberta, native turned aside 18 shots and the offense scored three power-play goals to give the Preds a 3-0 victory. Then on April 11, Mason stopped all 27 shots he faced, and Mike Sillinger scored the game winner at 12:15 of the third period to give Nashville a 2-0 win, and an eight-game season sweep of the Blues.
"It means a lot," Mason said after the second shutout. "We, as a team, knew before about [Vokoun's] status a couple days ago. But still, it's important for me to have the confidence of our team. They've been playing awesome in front of me since they found out."
April 15, 2006: Goaltender Mason Credited with Goal
Chris Mason stopped 23 of 24 shots and was credited with the first-ever goal by a Nashville Predators goaltender as Nashville defeated the visiting Phoenix Coyotes by a 5-1 score.
Mason, who was the last Nashville player to touch the puck before Phoenix inadvertently passed it into their vacated net on a delayed penalty call, won his fifth-straight game and became only the ninth NHL goaltender to be credited with a goal. The Red Deer, Alberta, native's play, while stepping into the starter's role with Tomas Vokoun going down to injury, even garnered the praises of a hockey legend.
"I guess you could call that the 'Grant Fuhr Hat Trick' - stop a breakaway, win a game and score a goal," Phoenix Head Coach and Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky said. "Mason's stepped in, and he's done a nice job for them. It's always good to see a guy step in and get a chance and take advantage of it."
April 18, 2006: Kariya Scores Three, as Preds Beat Wings in Finale
After trailing 1-0, the Nashville Predators scored six-straight goals - including a hat trick by Paul Kariya - to run away with a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena. The victory ended the Preds 2005-06 regular-season schedule on a six-game winning streak and with their best record to date at 49-25-8.
Kariya added an assist to create a four-point game and bring his season point total to 85 in 82 games - a Predators franchise record. Kariya, along with linemates Martin Erat and David Legwand, accounted for five goals and 10 points on the night to lead Nashville to a season-series split with Detroit.
April 21, 2006: Kariya Notches Four Assists in Playoff Opening Win vs. Sharks
In his first playoff game in a Predators' uniform, Paul Kariya made quick work of a number of franchise postseason records by assisting on each of Nashville's four power-play goals in a 4-3 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. The victory gave the Preds a 1-0 advantage in their 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
Adam Hall notched the game winner on a setup from Kariya and Kimmo Timonen at 12:06 of the third and Chris Mason stopped 31 shots for his first career playoff victory.
"The guy's a pressure player," Hall said of Kariya, who set Preds' all-time marks for playoff points and assists in a playoff game. "He's one of the elite players in the League. He goes out there, and he's a great skill player, but what people don't see is his intense work ethic. He deserves everything he's getting."
Dec. 14, 2006: Preds Blank East Champs, Sullivan Nets Hat Trick in 5:56
The Ottawa Senators would eventually win the Eastern Conference and play for the Stanley Cup, but on Dec. 14, 2006, the night clearly belonged to Steve Sullivan and the Nashville Predators. Nashville topped the Sens 6-0 behind Sullivan's natural hat trick and a 22-save shutout by Chris Mason.
Sullivan's sixth career hat trick - and third as a Predator - came in a span of 5:56 in the second period, making it the fastest three goals scored by an individual Nashville player. J-P Dumont provided the playmaking, setting up Sullivan on all three markers.
"I have to give credit to J-P Dumont," Sullivan said. "All three of them were me just trying to get open and him giving me some empty netters. He sees the ice tremendously well. He's known as a pure goal-scorer, but his vision is very good on the ice. He holds onto the puck, waits for guys to open up and makes great passes."
Feb. 15 & 24, 2007: Peter Forsberg Acquired; Nets OT Winner vs. Wings
Predators General Manager David Poile executed one of the biggest trades in franchise history when he acquired one of the most dominating players of his era from Philadelphia - former Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Peter Forsberg.
"Peter Forsberg is one of the NHL's most complete players and the ultimate competitor - a consistent winner who has year in and year out been a difference-maker in the Stanley Cup Playoffs," Poile said. "He strengthens our club up the middle and will provide another battle-tested, veteran voice to our dressing room. Adding a player of this caliber also sends a strong message to our fans that the Nashville Predators are prepared to compete at the highest level."
Possibly Forsberg's biggest point in a Preds jersey came in a late-February clash with the rival Detroit Red Wings - it was his first goal, and came at a clutch time.
Paul Kariya tallied the game-tying goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation, sending the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams to overtime. Just 2:11 into the extra session, Kariya found his newest linemate driving to the net, and "Foppa" redirected the game winner past Chris Osgood for a 4-3 Nashville win.
"It was an unbelievable pass by Paul," Forsberg said after the game. "I thought we battled. It was great to score my first goal and get my first points. The team played great, and there was a great atmosphere in the building."
April 5, 2007: Preds Hit 50 Wins for First Time
With a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Nashville hit the 50-win mark for the first time in franchise history. The club would end the 2006-07 regular season with a record of 51-23-8 and a franchise-record 110 points.
April 13, 2007: J-P Dumont scores GWG shorthanded in Game 2 vs. S.J.
Three years to the date after the Predators notched their first playoff shutout, J-P Dumont provided another bit of postseason magic, scoring a game-winning goal with a shorthanded tally in the team's 5-2 victory over San Jose in Game 2 of their 2007 Round One series.The win sent the series out to Silicon Valley tied at 1-1.
The goal was the third of four straight for the Preds in the first and second periods, and the first of two markers in 2:30 for Dumont. Nashville came out strong on the penalty kill all night, stopping the Sharks on all five attempts, including an extended 5-on-3 in the middle frame.
"The penalty killers did an outstanding job tonight," Nashville Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We killed off some important penalties; the 5-on-3, the five-minute major. We had great goaltending, we got a little bit lucky, and that made for an outstanding night."