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Post-Game Musings: Game 5 vs Detroit

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
The David Legwand, Alexander Radulov, Gabriel Bourque line connected for a pair of goals and Pekka Rinne stopped 21-of-22 shots as the Preds edged the Wings, 2-1, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals to win the series four games to one.

Nashville becomes the first team this playoff season to advance to the second round (opponent still to be determined by results in the other three Western Conference series).
Now on to the musings…

Full Team Effort – All four of Nashville’s lines contributed to the effort tonight. The Legwand line created the first two goals, but the Fisher line was dangerous (especially in the first and third periods) and easily could have had two or three goals if not for great saves and some unlucky bounces, the Spaling and Gaustad lines gave great energy and created scoring chances of their own. Gaustad, Smith and Yip, while only seeing around seven minutes of even strength time, had some creative offensive shifts, particularly in the first period, which allowed the Preds to roll four lines early and save the top lines for later in the game.

Original Pred Shining -- David Legwand was excellent tonight. In all three zones. Coach Trotz even commented that he thought Legwand could be a difference maker in the series and stressed that tonight he was just that. The goal and assist were highly noticeable, but beyond that he was great in one-on-one battles, was strong defensively, and used his speed to create chances through the neutral zone, finishing with a game-high 5 shots on goal. He also won 6-of-8 faceoffs and had 3 defensive takeaways.

Closing Instinct – With an additional off day between Game 4 and Game 5, the Preds had two days to hear about how tough the Red Wings were going to be to finish off; that the fourth win would be the toughest. Nashville showed tremendous team growth finishing the series in its first try. And tonight might have been the team’s best performance from start to finish, never trailing all night and controlling the pace of the play for the majority of the time. Even post-game was zeroed in, last year the team was jubilant after knocking off the Ducks; this year it was business-like and focused.

1) NSH F David Legwand – 1 goal, 1 assist; game-high 5 shots on goal; great in one-on-one battles
2) DET G Jimmy Howard – 23saves; more so than the number was the quality of the saves, Nashville strongly out-chanced the Wings and Howard was the prime reason it wasn’t more than a one-goal game
3) NSH F Alexander Radulov – 1 goal, 1 assist; 4 shots on goal; game-high 8 shot attempts; was dangerous with the puck on his stick all night

1) NSH G Pekka Rinne -- was a difference maker in all 4 Preds wins, especially the 2 in Detroit
2) NSH F Gabriel Bourque -- all series every line combination got better when Bourque joined them
3) NSH D Kevin Klein -- key goals, excellent defensive coverage, was very strong in one-on-one battles
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