JOE BIDDLE: Preds stay alive against Sharks

Photo: WKRN

It wasn’t the Music City Miracle on skates.

It was better in several ways. The Predators kept their rabid fan base up late Thursday night-Friday morning.

I pity those fervent fans that stuck with them to the end and had to go to work Friday. The 3-overtime game did not end until the clock had changed to 1 a.m.

This Predators team has come a long way since the first Predators team arrived in Hummers and wearing cowboy hats on opening night for the expansion team.

Thanks to a triple overtime win at Bridgestone Arena, the Preds are following the script they laid out in defeating the Anaheim Ducks.

They have not time to celebrate. They flew to the Bay area after the game. Players didn’t have time to let the adrenalin run its course. Even as draining as the game was, I know I could not have gone to sleep on the plane.

Mike Fisher can now drop the nickname, Mr. Carrie Underwood. If Fisher had not scored the winning goal, they might have still been playing. As it was, it became the longest game in Predators history.

It was Fisher’s winning shot that leveled the best-of-seven series at two-all. On to California.

This one-time expansion NHL team, brought to life by the first owner, Craig Leipold, who later sold the team and bought the Minnesota franchise, which put him closer to his Wisconsin home.

The Predators struggled for years. The seasons came and went. They were eliminated in the first round of Stanley Cup competition and the small size of a loyal fan base would wait until next year.

I remember when the Sharks ate the Predators for appetizers. They were bigger, faster, handling the pucks like they were taped to their sticks. Joe Thornton, who is still playing with the Sharks, was like a NFL tight end running down field, a tight end that not only could skate like an Olympic gold medalist, but set up teammates or take a pass and blast it by Predators goalies who wilted under the barrage game after game.

This team has the fangs to battle the Sharks. Thornton has to be 50 or more years old. Or so it seems. It’s more of an even fight now. Don’t be surprised if the Predators finagle a way to sink the Sharks. It won’t be easy. It may not happen. They are still underdogs, but their karma will be difficult to casually dismiss.

Ask Anaheim, who was relegated to watch this series on television.

Preds coach Peter Laviolette was cautious over the thrilling hockey marathon.

“I’m over it. I’m past it,’’ he said. “We haven’t done anything; we’ve given ourselves a chance. We have to finish or it means nothing.

“Our guys have to get ready to play.’’

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame. He can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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