April 6 and 11, 2006: Mason shuts out St. Louis twice in a five-day span, both on the road
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 he thrived during a late-season playoff push that included six straight victories to close the regular season. 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 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.
"In years past St. Louis always abused us," Mason said. "It's kind of unheard of to sweep, but they beat us up in years past."
The shutouts bookended a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on April 8, meaning Mason stopped 67-of-68 shots in a three-game span. Coming on the heels of the news about Vokoun, it was reassuring for the new number one goalie to know his teammates had his back.
"It means a lot," Mason said after the second shutout. "We as a team knew before about his 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 7, 2004: Nashville’s first playoff game
Playing In their first playoff game in franchise history against the daunted Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, one would assume the underdog Nashville Predators would come out of the gate hesitant and caught in the moment. That was the farthest from the case as Adam Hall gave the Preds a 1-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game – the quickest Detroit has been scored on in its playoff history.
"I was worried how we would start the game," Hall said. "I was afraid we would be in awe of the Detroit Red Wings and the atmosphere."
Hall’s goal made the 20,066 in attendance eerily quiet until Detroit’s Kris Draper scored the first of three third-period goals to lift the home team to a 3-1 win to take a 1-0 advantage in the series.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun kept the Preds in the game with an unreal performance, stopping all 18 shots he faced through 40 minutes and a total of 26 for the game.
“That is what you ask your goaltenders to do every night – give you an opportunity to steal a game,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said.
Though Nashville would fall in the series, four games to two, they provided countless memorable moments in their first appearance in the playoffs, including wins in games three and four at Bridgestone Arena. The six-game series earned the Predators respect around the league, and showed that they would be a team to be reckoned with in the years to come.
April 9, 2009 – Thrilling comeback in Detroit keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive
Jason Arnott scored an extra-attacker goal then netted the shootout-deciding marker as Nashville rallied from two goals down late in the third period to top Detroit, 4-3, at Joe Louis Arena to keep its playoff hopes alive. The win tied Nashville with the St. Louis Blues for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race with one game remaining on the Predators’ schedule.
Arnott’s game-tying goal was by far the biggest goal of the Predators season and there were two key plays by Ryan Jones and Ryan Suter to keep the puck in the offensive zone. First, Jones flew off the bench as the sixth skater when goaltender Pekka Rinne was pulled for an extra attacker, and was able to win the race to the loose puck high in the offensive zone. Jones’ effort prevented an easy Red Wings clear and kept the play alive. Suter negated another chance at a seemingly easy clear by holding the puck in the zone with his skates. He then pushed the puck back into the zone where the puck was slapped across ice. Jones – again – corralled the loose puck and dumped a centering pass from the near post that was swatted in by Arnott.
Joel Ward and current Nashville Predators Director of Player Development Scott Nichol also scored regulation goals and Rinne stopped 23 shots.
Arnott scored six goals in Nashville's final four games to set the franchise record for goals in a season (33). The win completed a 4-2-0 series against the Red Wings, Nashville’s second winning record in a season against their fiercest rivals.