Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena was a big one as the home team played their last home regular season game. The Nashville Predators hosted the Calgary Flames on their quest for their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They had a few scenarios where they could punch their ticket. The Predators suffered an overtime loss after the Flames scored with just .1 second remaining, so their fate was in the hands of the Dallas Stars. The Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in a shootout victory for the Predators to earn their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fan Appreciation Night began with a Predators penalty kill after too many men was called with just 2:09 into the game. Dillon Dube earned his seventh goal in seven games with a powerplay conversion. They set up for success with good passing during the possession.
Filip Forsberg tossed the puck forward in the zone to give himself the opportunity to find his way through two attacking defenders or to draw a penalty. His awareness earned his team their first powerplay of the night after an interference call.
The chaos of the game began when Tanner Jeannot and Erik Gudbranson dropped the gloves. Jeannot was hit in his defensive zone and skated down the ice looking for revenge. When crossing the blue line, he knocked an opponent to the ice and found his way to Gudbranson. Shortly after they got comfortable in the box, Matthew Tkachuk slashed Matt Duchene in the face before the faceoff. Duchene was escorted to the opposing blue line with Tkachuk making a move to him. The two continued arguing while in the box, but this would only be the first issue Tkachuk would cause.
The second period began with the opposing team holding a 1-0 lead. Captain Roman Josi got the Preds on the scoreboard after Ryan Johansen (25g, 36a, 61pts.) made him a clear path in the slot. Less than seven minutes later, Duchene earned his first point of the night with a goal. Mikael Granlund and Josi (22g-71a, 93pts.) would earn the assists for their first lead of the night.
Former Predator Calle Jarnkrok earned the assist on the second Flames goal. The second frame ended tied at two.
Just 30 seconds into the third period, Forsberg earned his first goal of the night to regain the lead. The powerplay goal was set up by Duchene and Granlund. The place was electric, and the playoff crowd started to show. However, the Flames would answer less than three minutes later to push a 3-3 game.
Forsberg (42g,40a, 82pts), Granlund (10g, 51a, 61pts) and Duchene (41g, 43a, 84pts) teamed up once again for a second powerplay goal for the go-ahead goal. The Predators had a 4-3 lead and it looked like they had clinched their ticket to the playoffs. That’s when starting goaltender Juuse Saros made his way to the bench and went down the tunnel limping.
David Rittich came into the game with a 4-3 lead and little time remaining in regulation. With just .1 second on the board, Tkachuk tied the game. The Predators also suffered a last-second loss on Sunday.
The Flames created a two-on-one advantage in overtime when a loose puck got behind Rittich. They earned their 25th road win of the season, setting a new franchise record with the victory.
Oddly enough, the Predators point and the Dallas Stars are to thank for their ticket into the playoffs.
The Predators will be on the road to Colorado for a game on Thursday night. The Avalanche are also a possible first-round opponent. They will end regular season play in Arizona on Friday.