Possibilities for Predators' next opponent down to just two

Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 10:03pm

Three days after they eliminated the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators still do not know their second-round opponent.

The possibilities shrunk considerably on Sunday, though. With Los Angeles’ overtime victory over Vancouver, Nashville knows it will play the winner of the Phoenix-Chicago series, which continues 8 p.m., Monday (CNBC).

The Coyotes currently lead 3-2. All five games have been decided in overtime.

If it is Phoenix, the Predators, the No. 4 seed, will open on the road due to the fact that the Coyotes won the Pacific Division, which made them the No, 3 seed in the Western Conference.

If it is sixth-seeded Chicago, Nashville will have home-ice advantage for the second consecutive round.

Nashville was 4-1-1 against Chicago and 2-2-0 against Phoenix (one win was in a shootout) during the regular season.

The Predators and Blackhawks last met in the playoffs two years ago. Chicago won that first-round series in six games and eventually won the Stanley Cup.

Nashville and Phoenix never have met in the postseason.

Quick and easy: Nashville is one of three Western Conference teams (St. Louis and Los Angeles are the others) that advanced to the second round in just five games. That could be good news for one of them.

The last time any Western Conference team won its first-round series 4-1 was 2007 when Anaheim and San Jose both did it, the latter against the Predators. The Ducks won the Stanley Cup that year.

In the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia opened that way in 2010 and made it to the Cup finals before it finally lost to Chicago. Washington won 4-1 in the first round last year before it was swept out of the second.

“It doesn’t matter how many games it takes,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “All that matters is the team that wins. To get out of the first round is a huge thing, and hopefully now we can continue that momentum we have.”

Five teams in the last five years swept the opposition in the first round. Four of those five lost in the next round.

On a roll: Alexander Radulov had at least a point in each of the final four games of the series with Detroit and finished with a team-high five points. He had an assist in Games, 2, 3 and 4 and then had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 2-1 clinching victory.

Joel Ward set the franchise record of five straight games with a point. He did it last season — twice.

Radulov now had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 15 career playoff games with Nashville.

“Every time he’s got the puck on his stick, he has the capability to make something happen,” defenseman Shea Weber said. “[Friday], he and his line were great.”

Briefly: Weber, Nashville’s all-time leader in playoff goals by a defenseman, and center David Legwand, the franchise’s overall playoff goals leader, each had two against the Red Wings. Legwand now has 12 and Weber has 10. … Defenseman Francis Bouillon, with a plus-6, set the franchise record for plus-minus rating in a playoff series. Ward (2011 vs. Vancouver) and Legwand (2010 vs. Chicago) shared the previous mark of plus-5. … Three Predators had 12 shots or more in the series. Two of them — Weber (18) and Suter (12) — were defensemen. The other was Patric Hornqvist (12). Neither Suter nor Hornqvist scored.