Nashville Predators: Win 5-4
The Nashville Predators hosted their first playoff game of the 2021 playoffs. After being down 0-2 in the series, the Preds really needed a win to keep the series close. They would do just that! In the first period, the Predators got the scoring started with a goal from Ryan Ellis. The crowd was electric as Bridgestone was at 70% capacity, but it sounded like the whole city was in the arena.
The Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho would tie the game later in the period on an unassisted goal. It was going to be a battle, and everyone knew that. Carolina’s special teams are some of the bests in the NHL, so things were not going to be easy for the Preds. The Predators were going to have to earn everything they got. Late in the first period, Juuse Saros swung the puck out to the side to Mattias Ekholm, who flung it up the boards to Filip Forsberg. Forsberg did was Forsberg has been doing his whole career. He took the puck, made some magic, and gave the Predators a one-goal lead. At the end of the first period, Preds were on top 2-1.
It wasn’t long before the Hurricanes tied the game in the second period. Jordan Staal scored his third goal of the series, and the game was knotted at 2-2. Carolina seemed to be gaining all the momentum and later in the period they would capitalize on it. Trocheck put one in the back of the net on a power play and the Hurricanes were now up 3-2. Just two minutes later though, the Predators came firing back and connected on a power play of their own as Granland scored on a 5-3 power play. The Predators had tied the game heading into the third period.
It was coming down to crunch time now. One period to determine a winner. The Predators had fought hard and been rewarded so far, but they needed just a little bit more. They would get it. Ryan Johansen scored a goal on a deflection from Ryan Ellis. The Preds took a 4-3 lead in the third period. They just had to hold on. Unfortunately, they were facing the top team in the Central Division, and it showed. Carolina came storming back and tied the game once more late in the third period on a goal from Pesce. The horn sounded, and this game was headed to overtime.
The regular season overtimes are different from playoff overtimes in hockey. In the regular season, teams go to 3-vs-3 hockey where only 3 skaters are on the ice at a time. In the playoffs, it stays a full 5-vs-5-man hockey. Essentially, they play one more period and the team that scores the next goal wins. Sudden death in other terminology. However, once in a while you get two teams that want to win so bad, they don’t give up a goal in overtime. They battle and battle but neither team can gain the advantage. That happened in Bridgestone last night. Both teams had opportunities, but neither team could capitalize on those opportunities in the first overtime period. This game would require second overtime or more to determine the victor.
The second overtime began, and guys were tired. They had been skating for a while now, but neither team wanted to give up the final goal and come out on the short end here. Especially since this game has gone on for so long. Both goaltenders had been excellent in net, Juuse Saros had set a career-high in saves with 51 and tied the all-time Predators’ record for saves in a single playoff game with 52 (Dan Ellis was the goaltender Saros tied). Then, with about 5 minutes remaining before a third overtime period would be necessary, Matt Duchene of the Predators got a loop pass from Roman Josi, beat the defender, and put the puck in the back of the net to score the game-winning goal in 2OT. The Predators weathered the storm and came out victorious 5-4.
Memphis Grizzlies: Win 117 – 112 OT
The Memphis Grizzlies are headed to the NBA Playoffs as an 8 seed! In a win or go-home game against the Warriors, the Grizzlies clinched their spot with a win. The Grizzlies came out again hot at the start. They were up 18-6 early in the game, but against the Warriors and Steph Curry, no lead is safe. By the end of the first, the Grizzlies held a lead 30-29. It was small, but it felt bigger because the Grizzlies were clicking on all cylinders.
They used that momentum to fuel their second-quarter performance. The Grizzlies were playing a complete first half so far and it showed as they took a 62-49 lead heading into halftime. Out of halftime, they knew the Warriors would not go down without a fight. That was definitely the case as the Warriors crept back as they scored 24 points in the third compared to the 16 the Grizzlies scored.
It was all coming down to the fourth quarter, or so we thought. Memphis held a 10-point lead with about 3 minutes remaining, but as mentioned before, no lead is safe with Steph Curry playing. The Warriors would knock down a couple of threes and before anyone knew it, the game was tied with a minute left. It was back and forth, but ultimately the Warriors had the last possession with 9 seconds remaining in the game. Draymond Green caught the ball at the top of the key and drove to the basket. Xavier Tillman contested Draymond’s floater without fouling and the ball bounced off the side of the backboard. NO GOOD. The game was headed to overtime.
In overtime, the Grizzlies were without big man Jonas Valanciunas as he fouled out in the final minutes of the fourth. If the Grizzlies had a chance at the upset, it would have to rest on the shoulders of young phenom Ja Morant.
Morant went head-to-head with one of the greatest shooters in the game and held his own. He led his team to a 117-112 victory as he had consecutive floaters converted with under 40 seconds in the overtime period. After some fouls and made free throws, the Grizzlies’ lead grew to 5.
In total, Steph Curry had 39 points and Ja Morant had 35. The Grizzlies’ bench players scored 40 points as a group and Valanciunas led the team with 12 rebounds. Memphis now has a tough test in the conference-leading Utah Jazz starting on Sunday night.
Nashville Sounds: Win 3-2
The Nashville Sounds took on the Gwinnett Stripers again last night. The Sounds were riding a three-game winning streak heading into the matchup. Nashville got on the boards early, as Hernan Perez drove in Dustin Peterson on an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. The Sounds led 1-0 early.
In the next half-inning, the Stripers would respond though. 2 RBI singles, one by Sean Kazmar and one by Kyle Muller, drove in 2 runs and the Stripers took the lead 2-1. Just a few innings later, the Sounds’ Keston Hiura launched a home run over the center-field wall to tie the game at 2. Then in the bottom of the fifth Tim Lopes hit a fly ball to left field, but a fielding error by the Stripers’ left fielder caused Dee Strange-Gordan to score and Lopes to move to second base. The Sounds retook the lead at 3-2.
That would be all the scoring in the game as the rest of the game was a pitching and defensive-led game. Derby was the pitcher credited with the win on the mound, and Milner came in to get the save for the Sounds.
Vanderbilt Commodores – Win 8-2 vs Kentucky
Vanderbilt squared off in game 2 of their final series against the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky was looking to steal a game away from the Commodores and they nearly did it. In the first inning, Collett homered for the Wildcats, and they led early 1-0. Then in the fourth inning, Estep hit an RBI single to bring in another run and the Wildcats led 2-0.
The first Vanderbilt run would not come until the bottom of the sixth inning. Rodriguez would hit a single with the bases loaded that scored 2 base runners. The game was now tied 2-2. The following inning, the Commodores kicked into gear as they plated another 2 runs and took the lead. Another 2-run single, this time from Thomas, and Vanderbilt had their first lead of the game 4-2 in the seventh inning.
In the eighth inning, Vandy would tack on some insurance runs. Leading off the inning, Bulger homered. Then 4 batters later, LaNeve hit a 3-run home run and Vandy led 8-2. That would be all that was needed as Vanderbilt came from behind late in the ballgame to squeeze out a win. McElvain was the winner on the mound.
Tennessee Volunteers – Loss 3-2 South Carolina Gamecocks
The Tennessee Volunteers, on the road in game 2 against South Carolina, battled in their second to last game of the regular season. They scored the first run of the game in the third inning off an RBI single from Pavolony. An inning later the Volunteers would add another run by way of the long ball as Lipcius hit a solo shot. The Vols led 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
The bottom of the fifth is when things went awry. South Carolina not only tied the game, but they took the lead with a 3-run home run from Allen. Neither team would score another run and the game came to a close with the Vols on the losing end 3-2. Camden Sewell was credited with the loss.
Atlanta Braves: Win 20-1
The Atlanta Braves bats exploded in their rematch against the Pirates. The Braves had a revenge game against the Pirates after an extra-innings loss on Thursday. And revenge they got! The Braves plated runs in every inning except the bottom of the third. Albies earned an RBI double in the first to give the Braves a 1-0 lead in the first. Atlanta would not look back from there and would never lose the lead.
In the second inning, Ronald Acuña Jr hit a grand slam to give the Braves a 5-0 lead. Then an inning later, Acuña hit a SAC fly for another RBI and a 6-0 lead for his team. The fifth inning would see 2 home runs for the Braves, a 2-run home run from Albies and a solo shot from Austin Riley. Atlanta led 9-0. The next three runs over two innings would all be solo home runs from the Braves. Swanson, Ozuna, and Riley all homered and the Atlanta lead was now in the double digits. The bottom of the eighth saw 8 runs cross home plate, including a grand slam from Adrianza (the second of the game for the Braves). In the ninth, the Pirates would score their lone run on an RBI single from Craig.
In all, the Braves hit 6 home runs as a team on 20 hits, including 2 grand slams. Ian Anderson was the winning pitcher on the mound.
Cincinnati Reds: Win 9-4
The Cincinnati Reds tried to put the last series behind them as they head into a matchup against the Brewers. They did just that last night. After an abysmal performance against the Giants, the Reds bounced back big time against the Brewers. They started the scoring in the first inning with a Tyler Naquin 3-run home run. The top half of the inning did see the Brewers get 1 run back as Hoffman walked a man with the bases loaded. The Reds still had a 3-1 lead at that point though.
In the third inning, Jesse Winker went yard over the center-field wall to gain back the run that was let up and the Reds led 4-1. Winker wasn’t done at the plate though as just two innings later, in the bottom of the fifth, Winker hit a second home run to give his team a 5-1 lead. Later in that same inning, Barnhart hit a SAC fly to drive in Castellanos and the Reds led 6-1.
The Brewers made things close in the seventh inning as they plated 3 total runs. First, a SAC fly from McKinney, then an RBI double from Cain, and lastly a ground out by Yelich that scored a man from third. The Reds remained calm though and kept their bats hot. They drove in 2 runs in the bottom of the seventh with RBI singles from Farmer and India. They weathered the storm and still led 8-4. Then in the eighth inning, Jess Winker hit his third home run of the game (his first career 3 home run game) and the Reds shut the Brewers down in the ninth to win 9-4.
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