Predators to play Colorado Avalanche in first round of Stanley Cup playoffs – The Tennessean

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Last year, the Predators unexpected Stanley Cup run saw a lot of fanfare. This year, the team is looking to go even bigger to surpass expectations.

Mar 4, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) attempt to stop left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA TODAY Sports)

After experiencing an historic regular season, the Predators’ pursuit of a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final begins with a first-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche. 

The series starts Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. Game 1 is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. 

The Predators are in a stronger position this season than when they fell two wins short of the Stanley Cup last June as eighth-seeded underdogs. They won a franchise-record 53 games and the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best team, securing home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

“It’s been a great regular season for us,” Predators captain Roman Josi said. “It’s definitely something we’re proud of. It’s been so much fun with this whole group. … The ultimate goal remains to win the Stanley Cup, but we’re really proud of the regular season.” 

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As for the Predators’ opponent, the Avalanche have reached the postseason for the first time in four years.

Colorado was the league’s worst team by 21 points last season, but rebounded this season behind the MVP-caliber play of forward Nathan MacKinnon. The Avalanche’s 47-point improvement is tied for the fourth-largest in NHL history. 

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