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Preds Honor Their Fans with Locker Room Photo

Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Predators Add Photo of Their Fans as Sign of Gratitude

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

There weren't many who noticed it right away.

Other things, like celebrating Kevin Fiala's overtime goal shortly after midnight in Game Three to give the Nashville Predators a commanding 3-0 series lead over Chicago, took precedent over picking out a new photograph in the locker room.

But there it was, almost directly above Fiala's stall of all places, looking down on the worn out, but jubilant players, another addition to the space.

Inside the Predators locker room, on the remaining real estate above where the gloves and helmets rest after they've been utilized in battle, memories from the current season hang with pride, enlarged to be easily seen by anyone who passes through.

They're a constant reminder of how the team got here, and where they still want to go. There are photographs of successful home stands and road trips, milestones attained and moments that unite.

And the newest addition to these portraits includes faces seen by many, but never before inside of these four walls, the space where professional hockey players feel most at home away from home.

As the Predators were hundreds of miles away at the United Center in Chicago, defeating the Blackhawks 5-0 in Game Two, hundreds of Predators fans were gathered at the corner of Fifth and Broadway, willing their team to victory with an organized viewing party.

When a photo of the masses made its way back to Head Coach Peter Laviolette, there wasn't even a question - a new canvas was to be printed, with the script of "41+ Sellouts, We Stand Together" added on.

"The wall is saved for what's important to us," Laviolette said. "This could be the most important picture of them all. We love our fans."

That affection was replicated on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena, when, trailing 2-0 to Chicago in Game Three to begin the third period, the 17,000-plus rose to their feet. Filip Forsberg scored once. Then twice. And at 12:09 a.m. CT, Fiala ended it.

The decibel level likely wasn't safe for everyday consumption.

"It lifts us up," goaltender Pekka Rinne said of the response from the fans. "It's an uplifting feeling and you try to use that energy and take it to your advantage, try to gain momentum. It doesn't matter how the game is going, they're always on our side and it's a good feeling.

"After the OT goal, that was awesome. It was so loud."

The bond, the belief shared between team and fans is unlike any other. And it's moments like that, in Game Three, that every soul in the building, and even those watching elsewhere, will remember for years to come.

"I think they feel the same things that we feel," Forsberg said of the fans. "They believe in us and we believe in ourselves… we're coming down after the second period, we let in two goals and they still stand up and they cheer."

It wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last, but the experience of a postseason atmosphere in Bridgestone Arena never gets old, no matter the vantage point.

"It was a 10," Laviolette said of the environment after Game Three. "I'm not sure there's another place like it."

And after eventually losing count of the ovations, it was time to head home, one win closer to the ultimate goal.

There weren't many who noticed its presence in the room. But there they were, frozen in time, the first time the fans have taken a place on the collage.

This addition to the locker room is the players, the coaches, the trainers and staff's way of standing up and returning the love - their equivalent of the Smashville Standing O. And now, the fans have their spot, along for whatever comes next.

The locker room walls are almost full.

Almost.

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