Predators demolish Avalanche to capture series.

Story written by Mark Harris

The Nashville Predators failed to close out the Colorado Avalanche in Nashville on Friday night. It was extremely clear that they weren’t going to let that opportunity pass them by in Game Six on Sunday in Denver.

The phrase ‘they dominated their opponent’ gets tossed around quite a bit, but the Predators truly did just that on their way to a 5-0 win.

Nashville put together it’s best first period of the entire series and buried the Avalanche in every facet of the game. From shots on net, clogging up the neutral zone, simply out skating the Avalanche and cycling the puck at a high-rate, the Predators had it all working.

There is one particular moment in the first period that stands out as the tone-setter and that was Viktor Arvidsson’s hit and roughing up of Nathan MacKinnon near the Preds bench.

Whether you’re a more old-school hockey fan or new-age fan that doesn’t lean toward the belief that a hit or fight can change a game, there isn’t any doubting that this hit changed things up for Nashville.

Moments after the sequence, Mattias Ekholm found the back of the net to give the Preds a 1-0 lead and they didn’t look back from there. Just over three minutes after the Ekholm tally, Austin Watson lit the lamp and you could feel the air leaving the Pepsi Center.

The Preds out shot the Avalanche 14-7 in the first period and their heat map emphasized even more so just how dominant Nashville was for the first 20 minutes.

It may have been just 2-0, but it truly was lights out for Colorado after the first period. Nashville had the tightest of grips on the game and wasn’t going to let it go. Anyone who had any doubts about that, well, those were wiped away 38 seconds into the period when Filip Forsberg gave Nashville a 3-0 lead on an odd-man rush.

Nick Bonino said goodnight to all of Colorado when he made it 4-0 8:26 into the second frame while Arvidsson held the ultimate dagger with the final goal of the night early on in the third period.

We can’t talk about a shutout win without discussing the netminder and Sunday night’s win may have been one of Pekka Rinne’s more relaxed shutouts of his career.

The pressure on Rinne was pretty much out the window after the first period as well. His teammates blocked eight shots in the first period alone and limited Colorado to just three high-danger scoring chances on the night. Rinne saw only 22 shots during the contest as his team out in front of him made it as easy as can be.

You couldn’t have asked for a more solid performance if you’re a Predators fan. Nashville responded after a tough loss on Friday night and responded by burying the Avalanche in every way imaginable from the opening puck drop until the final whistle.

Other notes:

  • Nashville’s third-line has been unreal this postseason. Nick Bonino, Austin Watson and Colton Sissons have combined for nine goals and ten assists after they finished off a six-point night on Sunday.
  • Mattias Ekholm’s first period goal was the first scored by a Nashville defensemen during this postseason. That’s a sentence I didn’t think I would be typing in a six-game series.
  • Roman Josi finished the night with four shots on goal giving him a team-high 25 shots this series. While his only two points of the series were assists, him finding the target at that solid of a rate is a huge positive for Nashville.

The Predators now turn their focus to the Winnipeg Jets in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs which could very easily turn out to be one of the most exciting matchups in recent NHL history.

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