Nashville knows a good party, but it’s never thrown one quite like this before.
Riding an unlikely run unseen in this newfound hockey town, the Predators will play for the Stanley Cup for the first time in the franchise’s 18 seasons after defeating the Ducks 6-3 Monday to win the Western Conference finals in six games.
Colton Sissons, a sparsely played role contributor thrust onto Nashville’s top line due to injuries, scored a hat trick, the first of his career. In the absence of Ryan Johansen, lost for the balance of the playoffs, the 23-year-old took over to center Filip Forsberg and Pontus Aberg and the three contributed four goals and combined for seven points.
An onslaught of injuries rendered Anaheim sitting ducks. Jonathan Bernier, starting in net for the first time in his playoff career in place of No. 1 goalie John Gibson, surrendered four goals on 16 shots. Top forward Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves didn’t make the trip to Nashville.
The deficiencies were exploited early on by an opportunistic Predators offense, which needed just three shots on net to open a 2-0 lead.
The Knights flipped the No. 24 overall pick to Winnipeg in exchange for the No. 13 overall pick and a third-rounder in 2019, allowing the Jets to keep 22-year-old forward Marko Dano and defenseman Tobias Enstrom. Thorburn is a pending unrestricted free agent.
Through his fair share of postseason struggles, Washington’s prized rental defenseman all but redeemed himself by scoring the biggest goal of the Caps’ season 3:13 into the extra frame for a 3-2 win. The power-play goal, a seeing-eye wrister from the point, throws the second-round series between the NHL’s top two teams into flux.