By Jim Diamond
Late in the second period and with the puck near the Chicago blue line, Mike Ribeiro stepped up and planted a body check on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.
Goddess of the GIFs and friend o’ Rinkside Steph has all of the action here:
More known for his passing ability than his prowess for delivering open-ice hits, Ribeiro made a play that was uncommon for him in a night of firsts for the Predators. After missing considerable time down the stretch of the season with a broken collarbone, Kane had largely gone untouched for most of the series. The score was tied 1-1 at the time, and the middle frame would end that way, but in the third, the Predators came out flying.
“Everyone is doing everything in this playoff series,” Filip Forsberg said. “It feels like Ribby is hitting, guys are blocking shots like never before, so it’s awesome. That’s the type of effort you need to beat the Chicago Blackhawks and I’m really happy that everyone put this in the basket today. There’s a new game coming up in two days, and that’s the next focus here.”
Oh, and about Forsberg – just a couple of hours after the NHL announced that he was not among the top three vote getters in the Calder Trophy race for the league’s top rookie, Forsberg went out and registered the franchise’s first-ever playoff hat trick.
In a frenetic first period that featured a nearly 10-minute stretch that went without a whistle, Forsberg potted his first just 1:15 after Brad Richards opened the scoring.
The Swede struck again at 3:14 of the third. The goal came just 12 seconds after Colin Wilson’s power play goal, and the Bridgestone faithful had not even had time to sit back in their seats.
Forsberg punctuated the evening with the rare empty-net power-play goal in the game’s waning seconds. And the hats hit the ice.Well these kinds of hats did too. And curiously enough, even a pair of glasses. Related, this tweet from Christine deserves some love:
The 5-2 victory was also an important franchise milestone in that it was the first time a Predators team facing elimination won the game. Still with a tough task of having to beat Chicago twice more in order to advance, Nashville’s players were taking the one game at a time approach following Thursday night’s game.
“We’re not going to get too high on one victory,” Seth Jones said. “It takes four to win a series and we have two now. We know how important every game is. We break it down shift by shift how important every shift is, puck management is huge too against this team. It’s just another win. We’re still down 3-2, so we have a lot more work to do.”
Wise well beyond his age of 20, Jones had remarked at the morning skate that the series didn’t have the level of physicality and nastiness that most playoff series morph into at some time or another. Game 5 turned the corner in that respect.
“Guys are maybe getting a little frustrated here or there,” Jones said. “That’s just hockey. It’s going to get chippy at times.”
That chippiness was evidenced by a minor fracas in the corner of the Nashville zone late in the third involving Paul Gaustad and Andrew Shaw among others.Facing another elimination Saturday, the Predators will have to win in a building that they have lost each game they have played so far this season to force a decisive Game 7 back at Bridgestone.