The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings in what very well could be a preview of a first round meeting between the two clubs. Gabriel Bourque and Francis Bouillon scored in the second period and Pekka Rinne made 26 saves to help Barry Trotz and David Poile earn their 500th victory with the franchise.
Trotz, the only coach in Nashville history, became the fifth bench boss in NHL history to win 500 games with one team, following in the footsteps of coaching legends Al Arbour, Toe Blake, Billy Reay and Lindy Ruff.
Joining Trotz in celebrating the big moment was Predators general manager Poile, who became the first NHL general manager to win 500 games with two different teams. He was an integral part of 594 wins with the Washington Capitals from 1982-97 before joining the Predators prior to their inaugural 1998-99 season.
It was a pretty special moment for the franchise and one that I hope Nashville can build on going forward into the playoffs.
As for the game itself….
By virtue of a relatively lopsided victory, Nashville moved a point ahead of Detroit with four games left in the regular season. Had Detroit won they would have all but wrapped up home ice advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Red Wings failed to capitalize on any of their three power plays in the second period in part because Rinne made a dazzling glove save to prevent Henrik Zetterberg from scoring off a rebound.
It was a golden opportunity for the Wings to get on the board and get the crowd into the game. Instead it appeared to suck the life out of Detroit. That changed the outcome of the game for good.
Now the Predators head home to face the Chicago Blackhawks and hope to increase their point lead over both teams. A win would also give them 100 points for fourth time in franchise history and their first since 2009-10.
The Predators will go for their fifth straight victory over the Blackhawks, who can clinch a playoff berth themselves with a win at Bridgestone Arena.
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