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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

On Monday evening, the Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 in game six of the Western Conference Finals to become Western Conference Champions. Colton Sissons scored his first career playoff hat trick, including the series-clinching goal.

But the victory for the Preds was not without a bit of drama. After going up 2-0 early in the first period, the Ducks cut the lead in half 4:45 into the second period. Three minutes into the third, Sissons put the Predators up 3-1 after finding a loose puck in the midst of a scramble in front of Jonathan Bernier. Two minutes later, Chris Wagner banked a shot off of Pekka Rinne’s mask and in to cut the lead in half for a second time.

Cam Fowler tied it up at three with a shot from the point as Corey Perry completely screened Rinne in front. The play was challenged by Preds’ bench boss Peter Laviolette for goaltender interference by Perry, but the call on the ice remained as the interference was originally caused by Rinne’s own defender, P.K. Subban and enough time had passed to allow Rinne to reset his position before the scoring shot.

Anaheim controlled the pace for the vast majority of the game at this point. The Ducks possessed the puck most of the time, forcing the Preds to clear the zone in order to get a line change, as the play was spent mostly in the Nashville zone. But at the 14-minute mark, P.K. Subban made a defensive stand at the wall, and Calle Jarnkrok picked up the puck and skated ahead, passing it along to Sissons. Sissons entered the zone but the puck was knocked loose by Fowler. Jarnkrok trailed the play, picking up the loose puck again and sent it cross-ice to Sissions who quickly put himself into position for a one-timer.

Though Sissons scored his third of the evening, spectators at the arena were unaware of that fact as Sissons’ second goal was originally credited to Pontus Aberg. It wasn’t until a succeeding TV-timeout that the fans were informed of Sissons’ hat trick. Soon thereafter, the hats flew onto the ice as well as what has become a new tradition in Nashville: catfish on the ice, reminiscent of the octopi in Detroit.

Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson would put the game out of reach for the Ducks with a pair of empty-netter goals. In total, the Preds scored six goals on just 18 shots. Bernier only made 12 saves on 16 shots – not good for his first-ever playoff start with John Gibson out with a lower-body injury suffered in the first period of game five. On the flipside, Rinne was stellar as usual, turning aside 38 of 41 shots.

After the handshake line, spectators at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville as well as viewers watching on TV noticed Preds’ Captain Mike Fisher refrain from touching the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, awarded to the Western Conference Champions. For those who still believe in the superstition, stop. I’m sorry – I know hockey is filled with traditions and fantastic lore. And believe me, I love the rich tradition and legendary stories that the game of hockey holds dear. But seriously, stop.

Not touching the conference trophy (the Prince of Wales for the East) will not guarantee a victory in the Stanley Cup Finals. Conversely, holding or touching the trophy will not prevent one’s team from hoisting the beloved Stanley Cup a couple of weeks later.

For instance, Sidney Crosby refrained from touching the Wales trophy in 2008. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost in the Finals that year. But in 2009, Crosby made sure to lift the trophy. Two weeks later, he hoisted his first Stanley Cup. In 2016, Sid did the same thing before the Penguins took down the San Jose Sharks in six games.

In 2002, Steve Yzerman held the Campbell Trophy a couple of weeks before the Detroit Red Wings won the Cup. Going back to 1994, Mark Messier evidently broke the Rangers’ 54-year curse by holding onto the Wales Trophy. Alright, you get the point.

There is no problem with refusing to touch or hold the respective conference trophies to make a statement. But to refrain for superstition is silly. Besides, there are so many better superstitions in hockey history to abide by (such as being the last to tap a goalie on the pads before the opening draw, being the last to leave the ice surface after warmups, etc.). I know athletes have their own personal “superstitions” which are more like routines to get the player in the right mindset before a game. Until we see a true consecutive dynasty, or at least a back-to-back Cup Champion, it cannot be said that refraining from touching the trophy is a pregame routine.

On Tuesday evening however, Sidney Crosby will get the chance to make holding the Wales Trophy a routine as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators will face off in Ottawa for game six of the Western Conference Finals. The Pens lead The series 3-2 have a chance to clinch their own bid to the Finals.

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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