NHL playoffs: How the Nashville Predators got here, first-round prediction

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There was the half-blind life insurance salesman turned NHL goalie in Dallas, wearing a Stars decal on his mask while playing for the Anaheim Ducks.

There was a 4-0 Nashville Predators lead that turned into a 5-4 Nashville Predators loss more than 1,000 miles away, against the Arizona Coyotes, one of the worst teams in the league.

The last night of the regular season Friday brought with it twists and turns that saw the Predators settle for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, meaning their destiny is a first-round series with top-seeded Colorado.

That matchup begins Tuesday in Denver.

In order for that to happen, the Dallas Stars had to win in regulation, which they did when they scored on emergency backup goalie Thomas Hodges, who lost sight in his left eye when he was hit by a puck at 12 years old. Then the Predators had to lose in regulation, which they did after blowing the four-goal lead.

Oh, and all of that was after the Predators scored the fastest three goals to start a game in franchise history.

More: Emergency backup goalie Thomas Hodges enters game in Anaheim Ducks' loss to Dallas Stars

More: Nashville Predators' first-round NHL playoff schedule

More: There's a bleak reality if Juuse Saros is out for Nashville Predators' playoff push

As for the Predators' chances against the Colorado Avalanche, well, at a glance they don't look so good. In fact, Flames coach Darryl Sutter predicted a first-round knockout.

Sutter, whose words know no mincing, said as much when shared his prognostication for whichever wild-card team -- the Predators or Dallas Stars -- was going to face the Avalanche.

"If you are a wild-card team, I sure as hell don't want to play Colorado in the first round, because it's going to be a waste of eight days," Sutter said.

The sports betting world agrees with Sutter, especially considering the Predators could be without All-Star goalie Juuse Saros and instead may have to rely on backup David Rittich and callup Connor Ingram, neither have whom have a playoff start on their stat sheet.

Still, the games will go on.

I don't think the Predators will be as much of a pushover as some others. They're hardly ever out of a game, they're arguably the most physical team in the league and they're here, which most thought wouldn't be the case.

Paul Skrbina's pick: Avalanche in six games.

Reach Paul Skrbina at pskrbina@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Can Nashville Predators upset Avalanche in NHL playoffs?