Nashville Predators: Four takeaways from Game 1 versus Avalanche

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 12: Ryan Ellis #4 congratulates Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators on a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 12: Ryan Ellis #4 congratulates Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators on a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 12, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 12: Nashville Predators defenseman Matt Irwin (52) talks with linesman Steve Miller (89) during Game One of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche, held on April 12, 2018, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 12: Nashville Predators defenseman Matt Irwin (52) talks with linesman Steve Miller (89) during Game One of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche, held on April 12, 2018, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Unsung heroes

When it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs, three things are needed for victory: great goaltending, stars players performing, and someone else to step up. The Nashville Predators had all three last night. But, the surprise may just be who stepped up.

Those players are Alexei Emelin and Matt Irwin. That’s right, folks. The two most maligned players on the roster this season played the games of their lives. In terms of Corsi stats, Emelin rated at a game-high 67.86%, while Irwin was an even 64%.

More than just their shot-shares, Emelin and Irwin provide key moments in possession. While the Predators were attempting to gain momentum in the third period, these men kept the puck in the zone. When the was struggling for shots, Irwin pushed the puck to the net. Furthermore, the Avalanche gained no high-danger chances when Emelin or Irwin were on the ice.

It was nice to see the third defensive pairing play as well as they did last night.