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Preds Fangtastic Fanale History

by Kevin Wilson / Nashville Predators

Club has won three straight home closers

In recent years, the Nashville Predators have used some stellar performances in the final home game of the regular season to either secure playoff berths, or solidify their standing down the stretch. In fact, Nashville has claimed three straight home closers, and are 4-4-1 in nine “Fangtastic Fanales” in franchise history.

Here are some of the more memorable home closers:
April 3, 2008: Fans help Predators to victory, club clinches playoff spot later that night
Just two nights after rallying from an early three-goal deficit to net a heroic victory over the same St. Louis Blues to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Predators once again played comeback kids in their final home game of 2007-08, coming from behind to score a 3-2 victory thanks in large part to the support of a sell-out crowd.

At the commencement of the last television timeout, the 17,000-plus fans crowded into the Sommet Center stood and waved their white T-shirts given away as a promotional item. The ovation lasted 10 minutes, and goaltender Dan Ellis credited the fans with giving the team the final push it needed to hold on and beat the St. Louis Blues.

"That was huge," Ellis said. "We were able to feed off of that. It gave us a lot of energy to get us through the final minutes."

A few hours after the Predators won, Nashville secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference when Vancouver lost 2-1 to Edmonton.

"If you are standing behind the bench it is pretty impressive to look at the community and the people in the stands," Coach Barry Trotz said. "It was pretty loud on the bench because I was trying to call lines and the guys couldn't hear me."

Jan Hlavac, a trade deadline acquisition of the Predators just one month earlier, assisted on all three Predator goals. He had also set up the overtime winner two nights prior in St. Louis, and scored the game-winning goal in the two games before that, meaning the Prague, Czech Republic native was in on each of the club’s last four game winners of the season.

"Hlavac has really fit in, especially on the line with Arnott and Dumont," Trotz said after the game. "He is a very intelligent player. He plays well without the puck. You can tell he has played with very highly-skilled players.

April 5, 2007: Predators hit the half-century mark in wins
With their 50th win of the campaign in the second-to-last game of 2006-07, the Predators established franchise records for wins (eventually ended with 51) and points (eventually ended with 110) with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in the final regular season game at the Sommet Center.

David Legwand scored twice in the Predators win, with his first marker coming just 11 seconds into the game – a franchise record for fastest goal from the start of the game that still stands today. His second marker stood as the game winner, allowing him to take over the franchise record in all-time game-winning goals as well (27). Paul Kariya set up Legwand on his second tally, the 500th assist of his career.

“It was a good start,” Legwand said after being selected First Star of the game. “Obviously, we knew we had to take advantage of their trapping game and use speed. This brings us one step closer to home-ice advantage, but you are going to play a good team in the first round either way you look at it. Home ice is always good and something we look forward to.”

April 18, 2006: Kariya nets hat trick as Preds close out regular season with a win vs. Detroit
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 the Sommet Center. 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, its best finish against the Wings.

"We were skating really well," Kariya said of his line. "Legwand was flying out there and really created a lot of room for Marty and I. When you get those types of opportunities, it's fun to play hockey like that."

Chris Mason, who backstopped all six victories to close out the year, was once again stellar in net for the Preds, stopping 30 shots to give him a .955 save percentage and a miniscule 1.16 goals-against average in that span.

It was a really important game for us to keep our momentum going into the playoffs," Mason said. "Especially against Detroit, who we have a good rivalry with – they had won 12 straight road games which is an NHL record. That says a lot for our guys.”

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