The Nashville Predators are headed to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Three unanswered goals propelled the Preds to a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. The win clinched the second-round series, 4-2, for Nashville.
Paul Stastny got the visiting Blues on the scoreboard first. Vladimir Tarasenko fired a shot toward Nashville's net from the right face-off circle. Instead of finding the back of the net, the shot found Stastny to the side of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. The puck bounced off Stastny then Rinne before Stastny corralled and tapped it home at 2:04 in the first period.
It was all Nashville from there. Roman Josi rifled a one-timer glove side and from a sharp angle past netminder Jake Allen to tie the game at one just 35 seconds into the second period. Ryan Johansen got the Preds out to a 2-1 lead at 3:15 in the third period with a backhanded shot. Calle Jarnkrok provided an empty-net insurance goal with a minute left in the game.
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Nashville had made 10 trips to the playoffs before earning its first berth to the Western Conference finals. The Predators will face either the Anaheim Ducks or the Edmonton Oilers, who play Game 7 Wednesday. Prior to this postseason, Nashville had only made it as far as the second round—a feat it accomplished three times.
Sunday's loss brought back bad memories for Blues fans. Since 2012, St. Louis has lost six of nine potential elimination playoff games. All six losses have come on the road.
Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers' historic night fueled Edmonton to a 7-1 win Sunday against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. With the win, the Oilers forced a decisive Game 7 to be played Wednesday in Anaheim.
Draisaitl scored three goals on the night. It was his first-ever playoff hat trick and Edmonton's first as a franchise since Bill Guerin's in April 2000. At 21 years old, Draisaitl became the Oilers' second-youngest player to ever tally a playoff hat trick. Only Wayne Gretzky was younger.
Draisaitl wasn't done rewriting the record book, though. He also had two assists, making him only the fifth Oiler to ever record a five-point playoff game.
Mark Letestu had a four-point night, recording two goals and two assists. Zack Kassian and Anton Slepyshev added goals for Edmonton, too.
The Oilers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. The effort made the Oilers the first team in NHL playoff history to do so since the Detroit Red Wings did it in Game 4 of the 2010 Western Conference semifinals against the San Jose Sharks.
Rickard Rakell scored Anaheim's lone goal. It was his fourth consecutive game with a goal for the Ducks.