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Predators overcome the odds, advance to semifinals

Jenelle Grewell | Managing Editor

The roar of the crowd was deafening. My screams made my throat raw.

Tears filled the eyes of the spectators. History was made.

The Nashville Predators were going to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Game six between the Predators and the Anaheim Ducks began at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 24.

We were either going to win the game and win the series to go to the next round or lose and play game seven in Anaheim to determine who was going to advance.

As I took my seat in the first row of section 303 of Bridgestone Arena, — also known as “The Cellblock” for all the crazy fans who sit in the section — I could feel the excitement and tension in all of my fellow fans.

The Predators started out very strong defensively. I could feel the relief flow through my body.

We were not playing with the lackluster effort of our last home game when we lost 6 to 3.

Rookie Jonathon Blum impressed me with all his interceptions and hits against the dangerous offense that is the Ducks.

Eyes were glued to Teemu Selanne, the top scorer against us.

We stopped him from scoring pretty well until 9:38 remaining in the first period, when he put the first goal of the game on the board.

The stadium was silent except for the sound of gasps, mutterings and curses.

The end of the first period approached and I wrung the playoff towel provided upon entrance in anticipation and worry we were going to go into the second period down a goal.

Suddenly, my new Predators hero, Jordin Tootoo made a shot on goal and missed.

But, Nick Spaling picked up the loose change and put it nicely into the goal, tying the score with 27.9 seconds left in the game.

The stadium exploded. I screamed my love for Tootoo at the top of my lungs.

He had done so much for the team in the playoffs so far, and he did not fail us tonight.

Going into the second period, the crowd anticipated more goals.

We swept the first period, doubling the Ducks’ shots on goal.

You could feel the hope in the crowd.

We started the second period strong again. With 16:31 left in the second, J.P Dumont set up a play for Steve Sullivan to breakaway. He faked out Duck’s goalie Ray Emery to lead the game 2 to 1.

I cheered and jumped up and down.

Even though it was Sullivan’s goal, I was excited for Dumont who had something to prove after losing his spot earlier in the season.

It was not until a slashing call on Dumont for being overly aggressive, putting the Ducks on their first powerplay, that I began to feel as if bile was churning in my stomach.

The Ducks have a very dangerous powerplay.

They have proven to be our nemesis throughout this tough series.

To the dismay of the stadium, Jason Blake scored on the powerplay tying the game with 1:37 left in the second.

Entering the third period, the crowd roared.

Being tied going into the third gave the game a new intensity.

The game seemed evenly matched, with both teams playing hard defensively and taking chances.

The stadium roared when goalie Pekka Rinne passed the puck to Tootoo who shot the puck and missed, but Spaling was able to roof the puck over the head of Emery when Ducks player Andreas Lilja crashed the goal, blocking Emery.

We led the game with 15:07 left in the third period. For the rest of the third I was practically hanging over the railing.

Fifteen minutes was a long time for hockey. Worry stayed with me.

The Ducks had another powerplay 7:38 into the period.

I was wringing my towel the whole time.

The crowd held their breath except whenever the Predators managed the clear the puck away from Rinne.

Selanne almost scored, bouncing the puck off the net before Rinne managed to cover it.

The crowd roared. We had to grind out the last few minutes.

With about two minutes left in the period, Emery was pulled to bring out an extra attacker.

I began to wring my towel again.

They could tie the game. We did it in the last game with 35 seconds left in the game using the extra attacker.

Then, the crowd roared when Saku Koivu got a two-minute interference penalty, with 37.5 left in the period.

They were down a man and we were ready to win. At that point, everyone in the stadium was yelling and hugging each other.

We did not sit down or stop screaming. We were going to win.

The Ducks pulled Emery again and David Legwand scored an empty net goal with 9.7 seconds left in the period, sealing the win, 4-2.
The crowd erupted.

Fans began to cry along with the players down on the ice.

The Predators made history and I could not have been happier I was there to see it happen.

The Predators proved they have what it takes.

Going to the playoffs six out of the last seven seasons and never making it to the second round seemed to be a curse on Music City.

Now I feel as if the curse has been lifted. I feel as if the worst is over, but we still have a lot to prove.

I cannot wait to witness us make history again. After all these years of waiting, the Predators have finally succeeding in making my dreams come true. TAS

About Aaliyah Mitchell

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