The Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues, 5-2, Saturday night in a win-or-go-home fight for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Their prize? A best-of-seven series with the favorite, 7-2 odds according to Bovada, to win the Stanley Cup.
The Nashville Predators accepted the President’s Cup, awarded to the team with the top overall record in the NHL (53-18-11) on Saturday night. They lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year in six games in the Stanley Cup Final and returned just as potent. That run to the final, the first for the team, highlighted the city of Nashville and how it had become a home for hockey die-hards and a tough place to win.
“Smashville had officially said ‘howdy’ to the rest of the hockey world,” per ESPN.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, have not made the playoffs since 2013-14, and haven’t made it past the first round since 2007-08. But this young group, overseen by second-year coach Jared Bednar, rallied after finishing with the league’s worst record by 21 points in 2016-17.
The Avalanche’s season series against their first-round playoff opponent was loaded toward the beginning and end of the season, but the results were the same – all losses. The Predators have won 10 straight against the Avalanche.
Here’s a look at how it happened as Colorado prepares to open the playoffs Thursday night in Nashville:
Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017
Predators 4, Avalanche 1
Nashville, Tenn.: Nashville captain Roman Josi and Viktor Arvidsson each scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Colton Sissons and Austin Watson also scored for Nashville, which has won three of their past four.
Filip Forsberg and Alexei Emelin each had two assists and Pekka Rinne made 20 saves to earn his third victory of the season.
Nathan MacKinnon had the lone goal for Colorado, loser of two straight.
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017
Nashville 5, Avalanche 2
Nashville, Tenn.: Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 29 saves and Nashville beat the Colorado Avalanche.
Smith opened the scoring with 35 seconds remaining in the first period. With Nashville on a power play, goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped P.K. Subban’s slap shot from the blue line, but Smith was in front and able to put the rebound in for his seventh goal.
Five of Smith’s goals have come on the power play, tying him with Filip Forsberg for the team lead.
Andrei Mironov had a goal and an assist and J.T. Compher also scored for Colorado, which has lost four of five. Varlamov had 19 saves.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Predators 4, Avalanche 3, OT
Denver: Nashville pulled off another comeback victory to remain the NHL’s hottest team.
Filip Forsberg scored at 1:07 of overtime and the Predators matched the franchise record with their eighth straight victory, beating the Colorado Avalanche. They completed a 4-0 trip, winning the last two in overtime.
But Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he still liked a lot of what he saw from his players in their latest effort against the Predators.
“I liked the way we played,” Bednar said. “I thought we got a little better as the game went on. It was a pretty good all-around effort from our group. Pretty tight contest. They catch a break at the end and tie it up and end up getting the extra point.”
Friday, March 16, 2018
Predators 4, Avalanche 2
Denver: The Nashville Predators didn’t break out the bubbly or anything rowdy like that after becoming the first NHL team to clinch a playoff spot this season.
”Business as usual,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said of the low-key celebration that included some pizza. ”Back to work.”
Colton Sissons and Filip Forsberg each scored twice, backup goaltender Juuse Saros stopped 33 shots and the Predators secured their postseason berth by beating the Colorado Avalanche 4-2.
The streaking Predators are 13-0-1 in their last 14 games and haven’t lost in regulation since Feb. 17 against Detroit.
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog had the goals for a Colorado team that returned home after earning two straight road wins. The loss snapped Colorado’s string of nine straight games with a point. The squad still remains in the thick of the playoff chase.
Semyon Varlamov turned back 24 shots as he started both games of a back-to-back for the first time this season.
"There’s no rest at this time of the year. We have to make a push,” Varlamov said. ”Nashville’s a really good team, tough to play against, but I think we played strong today, had a really good game. We just didn’t score.”