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NASHVILLE Womens Justin Faulk Jersey , Tenn. (AP) The moment the Predators have been waiting for since June 11 finally is here. After failing to force a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup, Nashville is back in the postseason eager to chase hockey’s ultimate prize once again.This time, the Predators are the Presidents’ Trophy winners for their first-round series starting Thursday night at home against the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville forward Filip Forsberg sees the NHL’s best in the regular season as a better team than the group that made a thrilling run to the franchise’s first final as the lowest-seeded team in the playoffs.”Same group of guys, same great mindset, great mentality in this group, but we’re a more skilled team,” Forsberg said.”Everyone who was here last year is a year older, a year better, and all the guys that they brought in have been great additions and really created a big impact on this team.”Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is no guarantee of success: Since 2004-05, more teams with the most regular-season points (four) have been eliminated in the first round than have reached the final (three). And Nashville’s own first-round sweep of Chicago, the Western Conference’s top seed last year, has given the Avalanche confidence after their own amazing turnaround for their first playoff berth since 2014, even if they have lost 10 straight to Nashville.”We got in Minnesota Wild T-Shirts Womens ,” forward Nathan MacKinnon said. ”Anything can happen now. We’re excited for the challenge. It’s not going to be easy against the Presidents’ (Trophy) winning team.”Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said the Predators won’t take anybody lightly.”We’re disappointed obviously the way the thing ended last year,” Laviolette said. ”We put ourselves in position to finish it off, and we didn’t get it done. We wanted to give ourselves the best position that we can through the course of the regular season in order to be successful, and we made it. We’re here.”Some things to know about the Predators and Avalanche for this series:YOUTH MOVEMENTThe Avalanche have one of the youngest rosters with an average age of just 25.8. This season, they dressed 11 rookies. That youthful spirit has rejuvenated the veterans. ”You can feel the excitement and energy from all those guys,” said 28-year-old center Colin Wilson, who spent his first eight seasons with Nashville. ”It’s a fun energy to be a part of.”PIT OF MISERYNobody spent more time in the penalty box than the undisciplined Predators, who led the NHL with 928 penalty minutes at an average of 11.3 minutes per game. They led the league with 320 minor penalties and 10 misconducts and tied San Jose with the most game misconducts (four). Laviolette said they have to be better. ”It’s playoff time, and we have to be in control of our actions on the ice,” Laviolette said.TALENTED TRIOSColorado’s top line of captain Gabriel Landeskog, MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen had a combined 243 points, which accounted for 36 percent of the team’s scoring in the regular season. The speedy MacKinnon led the way with 39 goals and 58 assists to put himself in the Hart Trophy discussion as for the league’s MVP. They’ll likely be matched against Nashville’s top line of Forsberg, who led Nashville with 64 points Chris Terry Jersey Womens , center Ryan Johansen (54) and Viktor Arvidsson (61). ”We’re always OK with best-best,” Laviolette said.WHO’S IN GOALThe Predators have a big advantage in Pekka Rinne , a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist who could finally win the award after a career-high eight shutouts and 42 wins this season. Rinne played a huge role in Nashville’s playoff run last spring. Colorado will be without Semyon Varlamov this series because of a knee injury, putting Jonathan Bernier in net. Bernier went 19-13-0 for Colorado with two shutouts, but this will be just his second career playoff start. His first? A 6-3 loss to Nashville as the Predators clinched the Western Conference title against Anaheim last spring.ON THE CALLAJ Mleczko, who won Olympic gold with the U.S. women’s hockey team in 1998 and silver in 2002, will be the color analyst for this game on NBCSN. The network believes this will be the first time a woman has been in the booth for an NHL playoff game in the U.S. Mleczko, who worked broadcasts for the 2018 Winter Olympics, started doing analysis on men’s hockey with NBC’s national broadcast March 6.—AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.— SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) The Florida Panthers preserved their playoff hopes thanks to much of their offense coming from unlikely sources.Alexander Petrovic scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.Evgenii Dadonov and MacKenzie Weegar also scored to help the Panthers snap a three-game skid and pull five points behind idle New Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has four games remaining, one more than the Devils. Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots.Petrovic and Weegar entered the game with one goal each on the season.”It doesn’t come too often, but everyone chips in a certain way and tonight we just found a way to get the two points,” Petrovic said. ”Just keeping this thing alive.”On the go-ahead goal Nick Foligno Jersey , Petrovic shot from the boards above the right circle and beat Darling with 7:58 left for his first goal since Feb. 14 against Vancouver. His second goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.The Panthers host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.”We needed tonight’s win at all costs,” Luongo said. ”We got the job done, now we’ve got to get some rest tonight and another big game tomorrow.”Derek Ryan and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored for Carolina, and Scott Darling finished with 32 saves.”They knew they needed two points tonight and they were going for it,” van Riemsdyk said. ”They were desperate, and they found a way.”Carolina had tied it 2-2 with 6:12 left in the second it caught Florida on a line change, and Ryan backhanded the puck past Luongo for his 15th.The Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday night and could have played the spoiler role.”More than trying to ruin their season it’s us playing for pride for each other. That’s more important for me,” Ryan said. ”They dug deep when the pressure was on.”The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on a goal by van Riemsdyk 3:44 in. Luongo blocked a shot from in front by Brock McGinn but van Riemsdyk slapped in the rebound for his third.The Panthers answered 19 seconds later when Weegar’s shot from the right circle went over Darling’s glove for his second of the season. Weegar’s last goal was on Oct. 20 against Pittsburgh.”We’ve got to respond after they score, and we did just that. I’m happy I could contribute. It’s been a long time,” Weegar said.Dadonov gave the Panthers ahead 2-1 on a power-play goal with 9.1 seconds left in the first. Aleksander Barkov passed over to Dadonov in the slot and he flipped the puck off Darling’s leg for his 27th.NOTES: Barkov’s assist on Dadonov’s goal was his 50th, becoming the first Panthers player to hit that mark since Olli Jokinen had 52 in the 2006-07 season. … Panthers forwards Frank Vatrano and Denis Malgin returned after missing the previous game with injuries.Carolina recalled D Roland McKeown from AHL Charlotte on Sunday.UP NEXT:Hurricanes: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.Panthers: Host Nashville on Tuesday night.
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