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Preds make history, defeat Ducks to move onto second round…

Everybody’s hands go up… and they stay there into the month of May for the first time in franchise history!

The fifth-seeded Nashville Predators knocked off the fourth-seeded Anaheim Ducks, 4-2 in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena crowd to win the series, 4-2. The Preds got one goal from Steve Sullivan, two from Nick Spaling as well as an empty netter from David Legwand to clinch a second round playoff berth.

Pekka Rinne made 25 saves (and even picked up an assist) in the victory.

You know that one guy named Teemu Selanne who’s been a thorn in the Predators’ side all series? Yeah well, he notched his sixth goal in six games to get the scoring started. Just after the second TV timeout, Selanne skated the puck behind the net and put a rising backhand on net that fooled Rinne for the 1-0 lead.

Nashville would not head into the locker room for the first intermission down 1-0, however. In a carbon-copy of his pass to Jerred Smithson for the Game 5 winner on Friday night, Jordin Tootoo found Spaling skating into the slot to tie the game with less than 0:30 to go in the frame.

In the second period, Sullivan scored the prettiest goal since Bobby Ryan‘s doozy in Game 5. After JP Dumont carried over the blueline and made an incredible pass to a breaking Sullivan, the “Timmins Tornado” danced past the defenseman and then put it past an outstretched Ray Emery for the 2-1 lead.

At the tail end of the second period, the Predators took their first penalty of the game and, you guessed it, the Anaheim power play cashed in. Scoring their eighth powerplay goal in six games, Jason Blake made the Preds pay by tying the game at 2-2.

Midway through the final stanza, Spaling channeled his goal scoring years with the Kitchener Rangers by scoring his second of the game. Rinne fed a long pass to Tootoo who fired a shot on net, Spaling picked up the rebound and fired it past Emery for the 3-2 lead.

The Predators must now wait for the other Western Conference series’ to end before they find out who they’ll play. In the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the highest advancing seed plays the lowest advancing seed and then the middle two advancing seeds play each other. Which means, if the Vancouver Canucks (#1) finally dispose of the Chicago Blackhawks (#8) tonight and the San Jose Sharks (#2) beat the Los Angeles Kings (#7) tomorrow night in Southern California, then the Preds will play Vancouver. But, if the Kings come back and defeat the Sharks, that will make them the lowest advancing seed and they’ll play Vancouver (again, if they beat Chicago tonight).

So stay tuned as there’s plenty of news to come in the next few days as far as who the Predators will play in the next round.

Wow. What a feeling.

* Coming into the night, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was 4-1 all-time in playoff Game 6’s. He still hasn’t won a Game 6 on the road, however.
* In the opening minute, the Ducks had two shots on goal.
* Selanne’s sixth goal tied a franchise record for the most in a series. Joffrey Lupul had scored six in the second round of the 2006 playoffs.
* Spaling’s goal was the first playoff tally of his NHL career.
* Dumont’s assist on the Sullivan goal was his first playoff point since last year’s heartbreaking Game 5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
* Rinne’s assist on Spaling’s second goal is the first point of his NHL playoff career. His last point in a professional hockey playoff game was with the 2006 Milwuakee Admirals.
* Without a doubt Emery played his best game of the series tonight. He made 26 saves but kept his team in it when it easily could’ve been decided before the final horn.
* Tootoo, not exactly known for his offensive prowess, has tallied four points in his last two games, including assisting on both the Game 5 and Game 6 game-winning goals.
* No Nashville player finished on the minus side. No Anaheim player finished on the plus side.
* This was the first game this series that Preds defenseman Shane O’Brien did not take a penalty.

1) Nick Spaling (NSH)
2) Jordin Tootoo (NSH)
3) Pekka Rinne (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Patten Fuqua //