There were tears of joy in the Bridgestone Arena crowd three years ago tonight.
Behind a hat trick from Colton Sissons, the Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the 2017 Western Conference Final to capture the Clarence Campbell Bowl and advance to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was on hand to present the Campbell Bowl to the Western Conference Champions, with the Preds owning a 12-4 record through the first three rounds of the postseason.
The final series of the spring didn't ultimately go in Nashville's favor, but the victory on May 22, 2017, took the Preds where they had never been before and showed just what the franchise - and the city - was capable of doing.
"It ended two wins short of our ultimate goal, but I have never, ever been part of something as special as what we just went through," Preds General Manager David Poile said following the run in 2017. "As the general manager of the team, as a citizen of Nashville, what took place on the ice and off the ice has never been seen before. In my mind, it was the most exciting Stanley Cup Final in the history of the National Hockey League, and it happened right here in Nashville, Tennessee.
"Everybody was part of this playoff run, and it just feels so good to be not only general manager of the Nashville Predators, but to be a citizen of Nashville, Tennessee."
Take a gander at the recap and highlights from that night below, and enjoy this look back on one of the most monumental moments in franchise history.
Video: Sissons propels Predators to first Stanley Cup Final
The Nashville Predators will have at least one banner to hang in Bridgestone Arena next fall.
Colton Sissons recorded a hat trick and the Preds defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a 6-3 final in Game Six to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. It's undoubtedly the most monumental victory the team has ever had, and although they're not done yet, they're going to enjoy this one for the night.
"It's a dream come true," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "But it's a funny thing, though. With everything that's happening around us, you still feel hungry, and now we have a chance to play for the Cup. It's a pretty amazing feeling. And you've been working for that for a long, long time."
Game Six couldn't have started any better for the Preds, as Austin Watson threw a puck at the net just 1:21 into the contest, and the shot found its way off an Anaheim defender and past Jonathan Bernier for a 1-0 Nashville lead. Sissons doubled that number at the 8:47 mark, wiring a shot into the twine to give the Preds a 2-0 advantage after one period.
Despite the score, it was Anaheim who carried the play for the majority of the first two periods, and they cut the lead in half early in the second when Ondrej Kase slid a puck into a yawning cage past Pekka Rinne to get the Ducks on the board, a score that stood after 40 minutes.
Once the third period began, Sissons took over. First, he banged home a loose puck in the front of the net, and after Anaheim battled back to tie the game at three, it was Sissons again, this time one-timing home a feed from Calle Jarnkrok to put the Preds up for good. Empty-net goals from Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson sealed it, and as the clock ticked down to zero, the Predators players made a beeline for their goaltender, the last team standing in the Western Conference.
Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Preds, Ducks shake hands at center ice
"We started the year with all belief in this team to be able to go and try and win a Stanley Cup," forward James Neal said. "Every single team says that and starts their journey through the regular season into the playoffs and so many teams make it to the playoffs and get a chance to play, and now we're down to two. You love every guy in this dressing room, and what an unbelievable job they did tonight."
To clinch it is one thing. But to do it at home, in front of the fans who have played such a key role in the team's success, not only on this run, but from Day One of the franchise - that's even better.
"Nashville has really taken on a life of its own," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think the downtown and the energy that's down here, I think our fans who have been so supportive for so many years, especially the last couple of years in the playoff runs that we've had, the energy that they bring into the building, and you guys see it just like we feel it on the bench. It goes to a level that I'm not sure goes anywhere else in the National Hockey League. And it's a great relationship. Our fan base and our team is a terrific relationship, and they were there again for us tonight. It wasn't our prettiest game out there. And they were right there with us the whole time."
Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Fiala, Johansen rally Nashville crowd
Western Conference Champs:
There's one more catfish to fry.
With their win in Game Six on Monday, the Predators captured their first Western Conference championship in franchise history. But that's not the end goal. And now they'll play for the sport's ultimate prize.
"I've said it earlier in the playoffs that this team has a tremendous amount of composure; there's so much confidence in this dressing room of what we can accomplish together if we play the right way," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "Today maybe we didn't get the start that we wanted, we got a couple of goals early but we still didn't feel that we were playing our best hockey. But good teams find a way and we found a way."
It's moments like these where names became those of the household variety, and Colton Sissons' hat trick in Game Six will do a world of good in adding his name to that list.
Video: Predators defeat Ducks, advance to Stanley Cup Final
"It feels good; I'm not going to lie," Sissons said. "I don't think I even dreamt of this moment, scoring a hat trick in a Western Conference-clinching game. I can't speak enough for just our whole group. We've been through some challenges together and we stuck together no matter what, just believed and here we are."
The Predators will be jetting off to either Ottawa or Pittsburgh before May 29 in time for Game One of the Stanley Cup Final.
But no matter the opponent, no matter the venue, the Predators are Western Conference Champions. And no one can ever take that away.
"It's almost like a thing you don't want to think about too much," Rinne said. "You have been holding it back, and in the back of your head you've been thinking about the Final, and then when the buzzer goes off, it's an amazing feeling."