Longest tenured Predator ends long playoff wait with empty-net goal

Monday, April 25, 2011 at 12:41am

Scoring into an empty net was nothing new for David Legwand. The Nashville Predators center had a team-high four empty-netters during the regular season, all during the final two months.

Still, the one he got Sunday was a little different.

The Anaheim Ducks pulled Ray Emery in a last-ditch attempt to try to extend Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series with a goal. Instead, Legwand dumped the puck into the unguarded goal with 9.2 seconds remaining and guaranteed the outcome.

With their 4-2 victory, the Predators won a playoff series for the first time in franchise history.

“To close out the series and not have to worry about the last [10 seconds], it’s a weight off your shoulders,” Legwand said.

Legwand was the first draft pick in franchise history (second overall, 1998) and made his NHL debut in the final game of Nashville’s inaugural season, 1998-99.

He is the only player in the organization whose connection dates back that far. Following the series, he also is the all-time leader in playoff appearances for Nashville, with 31 — one more than Jordin Tootoo and Martin Erat.

“We came out in tough moments in that series and came out on the right end of things,” Legwand said. “It’s exciting. We wanted to make this step a long time ago but it didn’t happen. It finally happened this year for us and we get to move forward now.”

Two for Sully: Steve Sullivan’s second goal of the playoffs came at a pretty good time. In a way, it also was a long time coming.

Sullivan gave the Predators a 2-1 lead 3:29 into the second period when he scored off the rush on a feed from J-P Dumont.

The last time the 36-year-old left wing had two goals in a playoff year was 1999, when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the second of his four NHL teams.

That also was the only other time in his 15 NHL seasons when he was on a team that went beyond the first round of the playoffs. He came into 2011 with a total of 35 playoff appearances and five goals.

“It’s been a long time — a lot of one-and-dones,” Sullivan said. “I was on some bad teams in Chicago. … Since I’ve been here, obviously, this is our first time out [of the first round]. It feels great.”

A win and a loss: The victory got the Predators past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but it also cost them a draft pick in 2012.

One condition of the trade that brought Mike Fisher to Nashville on Feb. 10 was that if Nashville won one series this postseason, the Ottawa Senators get a third-round pick next year.

If the Predators advance any deeper in these playoffs, that pick is upgraded to one in the second round.

Fisher was the Predators’ leading scorer in the series with six points (three goals, three assists).

Timeless Teemu: Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne had six goals in the series, which is one short of the most ever by an opposing player against Nashville.

San Jose’s Patrick Marleau had seven (in just five games) back in 2006. No one else ever has had more than four.

Selanne recorded at least a point in every game of the series, and his goals and power play goals (four) are the most of any player in these playoffs.

“Nobody tried harder, nobody cared more, nobody did more in this series than Teemu Selanne,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.

Fresh look: The Ducks went with yet another different lineup for Game 6. Right wing Dan Sexton became the 23 different skater to appear in the series for Anaheim.

He was called for the game’s first penalty — a hold at 16:02 of the first period. He also had two shots and one takeaway in 8:47 of ice time.

Quote of note: “We don’t have to sit and be [ticked] off all summer. — Trotz, on winning an NHL playoff series for the first time.

Round 2 tickets: Tickets for second-round games went on sale immediately following the victory over the Ducks at all usual outlets, including the Bridgestone Arena box office, TicketMaster outlets and online at nashvillepresators.com.

The Western Conference semifinals will begin Thursday. Dates and times for those games will be set once the remaining teams are determined. Nashville and Detroit already are in.

“If people thought this building was loud and energized in Round 1, just wait until they experience the thrill of Round Two,” Predators CEO Jeff Cogen said.

Briefly: There was not a scoreless period in the series. And in 10 of the 18, both teams scored. … The Ducks scored a power play goal in every game of the series and their eight total was one short of the nine San Jose scored in 2007. … Pekka Rinne became the first Nashville goalie to register a point in a playoff game when he had an assist on Nick Spaling’s game-winner at 4:53 of the third period.

3 Comments on this post:

By: fdanshep on 4/25/11 at 6:13

Selanne is an amazing athlete! His ability to get into scoring position time after time is astonishing, especially since he seems to take very little time off between shifts.

By: Lorenzo on 4/25/11 at 9:40

The official box score indicates Teemu Selanne was give a 10 minute misconduct and Corey Perry was given a slashing penalty at the same time on Legwand's EN. The game was essentially over. Does anybody have any knowledge to the details and why it was not announced during the game? Another fine example of the Duck's intent to injure a Pred's player.

By: News4free on 4/26/11 at 2:40

I recall that a delayed penalty was called on the Duck. They already had Saku Koivu in the penalty box, so when Legwand scored, Saku Koivu released and Perry went in. I do not know, but would guess that Selanne "argued" with the ref over the call - thus getting the 10 min misconduct - I was not aware that he had been called for that during the game, but its right there in the box score.