By Amanda DiPaolo
It was a night of firsts for the Nashville Predators. Nashville took their first ever 3-2 series lead. It was the first time the Predators had ever won a Game 5. It was also the first time the Predators won an overtime game in the post-season. Jerred Smithson’s overtime, game winning goal, at just 1:57 into overtime beat Ray Emery glove side. Jordin Tootoo sent Smithson the cross-crease pass for the tip-in.
In a reverse of last year’s crushing Game 5 loss to Chicago, this time it was the Ducks who held a 3-2 lead with less than a minute to play in regulation. The Predators pulled Vezina nominated goaltender Pekka Rinne for an extra attacker. With 35.3 seconds remaining on the clock, Shea Weber’s snap shot from the point beat Emery. JP Dumont provided the screen in front of the goalie. It was the first game of the post season for Dumont, who got back into the lineup after Marty Erat suffered an upper body injury during Game 4.
Nashville opened the scoring in the first period just 8:32 into the game. Kevin Klein, on a 2-on-1, tipped in a pass from Tootoo for his first ever post-season goal. Nick Spaling picked up the other assist.
Spaling’s assist means there is now only one skater on the Predators roster who has yet to register a point on the scoresheet during the Western Conference Quarter Final, Shane O’Brien.
The Ducks tied the game midway through the second period. With O’Brien in the box for tripping, Jason Blake picked up his first goal of the playoffs. Blake whacked in a rebound of a shot by Saku Koivu through the pads of Rinne at 13:39 of the middle frame.
The Predators and Ducks entered the third period tied at one but another early goal put the Ducks up 2-1 just 40 seconds into the third period. David Legwand coughed up the puck at the offensive zone’s blue line. Bobby Ryan took possession of the puck, and skating circles around Legwand after he lost his stick trying to take the puck away. Ryan beat Rinne top shelf, stick side. It was Ryan’s first game back in the lineup after sitting out games 3 and 4 because of a suspension.
Nashville was able to tie the game when it was Ryan who turned over the puck. Legwand, making up for his earlier error, set up Joel Ward for his third goal of the playoffs.
With only 5:44 left in the third period, the Ducks recaptured the lead. Teemu Selanne took a hit and fell to the ice, but still managed to pass the puck to the slot where Blake was standing to hammer home his second goal of the night.
Weber’s game-tying goal and Smithson’s overtime winner mean the Predators will play in a Game 6 where they cannot be eliminated for the first time in franchise history. With a win on Sunday, Nashville would be headed for their first ever second round playoff series. A loss would mean Nashville would head back to Anaheim to play in their first Game 7.
There are very limited tickets remaining for Sunday’s game. The puck drops at 5 pm CT.
Photo Credit: AP
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