P.K. Subban and his Nashville Predators made good on the defenceman's bold guarantee that the upstart Predators would bounce back to win Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final in the boisterous and friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.
In recent times these sort of victory pledges have rung hollow since Mark Messier set the trend and promised his New York Rangers would win Game 6 of the 1994 East final against the New Jersey Devils.
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But more attention was paid to Subban's guarantee because of his outspoken, confident personality and because he's one of the most polarizing figures in the game. Good for Subban to step up and profess the faith he has in his club, that the team would come through at home.
Why not? The Predators fans are among the best in the hockey business. They exhibited this to a worldwide television audience on Saturday with their chants, standing up for almost the entire game to support their club.
The Predators fed off the wonderful atmosphere their fans created, ratcheted up their team speed and made good on their odd-man rushes to score a 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Predators now trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 back in Nashville on Monday.
Rinne's resurgence on home ice
It may have looked bleak for the home side when Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel scored his 13th goal of the post-season to give his club an early lead. But the Predators stuck to their system and broke through in the second period for three goals to take a lead they would never relinquish.
There was frustration in the Predators camp early in this series. They outplayed the Penguins in the first two games in Pittsburgh, yet returned home down 2-0 after 5-3 and 4-1 defeats.
But Subban stepped up with his confident words and his teammates followed. Even when the Penguins stormed Nashville's end after the Predators made it 2-1 in the second period, veteran goalie Pekka Rinne kept his team in front until it took over the game for good.
Rinne was the weak spot in the first two games but rebounded in the first Stanley Cup final game played in Nashville in team history. If there was any doubt this was not a hockey town, it was wiped out on Saturday evening.
From expansion to Balsille to Broadway
Later this month, the Predators will celebrate the 19th anniversary of their expansion draft that built the foundation for their team. With the 25th of 26 selections, Nashville general manager David Poile selected Mike Sullivan. Yes, the gent who now coaches the Penguins. Later that summer, Poile flipped Sullivan to the then Phoenix Coyotes for a seventh-round pick.
It was a challenge in those early years for the Predators. The television broadcast team of play-by-play man Pete Weber, who left Buffalo to head south, and analyst Terry Crisp, a three-time Stanley Cup winner (two as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers and one as a coach with the 1988-89 Calgary Flames), had their work cut out for them.
They didn't turn down any invitations to luncheons, dinners or gatherings to address groups and educate them about the game.
Still, a NHL franchise in Nashville was slow to take. The team was almost sold to Canadian Jim Balsillie and moved to Hamilton. But local ownership stepped up to save the team, a group that includes 59-year-old Calgary businessman Brett Wilson.
That was then and this now. The country music community has taken to hockey. The Predators rink is right on Broadway, the main street in Nashville, and steps away from the heartbeat of country music.
There were thousands inside and outside cheering the Predators on to their eighth victory in nine home games in this magical playoff ride this spring.
Subban doesn't need to guarantee a win on Monday. The Predators have made a series of this final, and we can't wait to see where Game 4 takes us.