Nashville Predators: Playoff ticket bunched as Predators beat Avs

DENVER, CO - MARCH 16: P.K. Subban
DENVER, CO - MARCH 16: P.K. Subban /

They knew it would be a tough match in Colorado. With the victory last night, the Nashville Predators clinched the first playoff berth of the season.

The playoffs are now a reality. We knew the Nashville Predators were going to clinch a berth sooner or later, it was just a matter of when. It took a valiant effort against a pesky Colorado Avalanche team, who are also on a mission to make the playoffs. In the end, the Predators took the two points and solidified their place in the postseason.

Watching the game proved Nathan MacKinnon is a force to be reckoned with. He scored a goal in the first period but also pressured the Predators defense all night long. Gabriel Landeskog added another goal early in the second period, but that was all the Avalanche could muster. Juuse Saros made save after save, stopping 33 of 35 shots faced. The defense helped as the Avalanche did not obtain a high-danger scoring chance.

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Neither did the Predators. However, “danger” may have been Colton Sisson’s middle name last night. After a frustrating game against the Coyotes, Sisson was a man on a mission, and he took it out on the puck. With under three minutes left in the first period, Sissons blasts a feed from P.K. Subban over the right shoulder of Semyon Varlamov. He did the same 13 minutes into the second period, unleashing an aggressive shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. His second goal put the Predators in front for good. Filip Forsberg added a game-tying goal in the second and an empty-netter to finish off the game.

Playoff bound

While the game was important, the results speak volumes. Since their last loss, the Nashville Predators are 13-0-1. The 27 points earned pushed the Predators to the top of the NHL. Now with 104 points, they lead the Central Division by 10 points, the Western Conference by 9, and the NHL by 4.

Now is not the time to coast. With 11 games left, the Predators still have big matchups to come. Only two games remain against non-contending teams. Two games are still to come against a surging Minnesota Wild club, and one against Winnipeg, Toronto, Tampa Bay, and San Jose. Even so, the Western Conference is nearly wrapped up.

Essentially, Winnipeg must win every game from here out to have a chance at the division. If Nashville goes 5-5-1, the Jets need 11-0-0. I just don’t see that happening.

As for the Western Conference, the Vegas Golden Knights are trending down lately. Defeat at the hands of the Wild last night means Vegas lost two in a row and are 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They are also 5-8-1 against current playoff teams since February 1. Not how a team wants to finish the season. Vegas has four games remaining against contending teams.

Next: Preds hit 100 points for sixth time

Objective one is complete. The Nashville Predators are in the playoffs. With chances to win the division and conference still up for grabs, they have plenty to keep their focus.