A sea of red- and gold-clad fans was on hand for the Detroit Red Wings' annual trip to Bridgestone Arena to take on the rising Nashville Predators on Feb. 4.
While both former Central Division rivals were looking to capture two points by the end of the night, the game day experience in downtown Nashville is known to begin long before the puck is first dropped.
Referred to as "The Tire Barn" by fans, Bridgestone Arena sits on the corner of Broadway and 4th Street -- within walking distance of other local landmarks such as the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The 20-year-old all-purpose arena's extensive entrance overlooks an endless array of live-music restaurants and bars that turn the city into one big party from sun up to way past sundown.
This provides ample opportunities to refuel with some Nashville barbecue, listen to live music, and chat with some of the most down-to-earth people you can meet.
As the evening grows later, however, the attention turns away from the downtown nightlife and back toward the arena -- it's game time.
A two-minute walk on Broadway and an excited, fast-moving line of ticket holders brings you to the arena's well-maintained concourse, which looks newer than it's 1996 construction or even its 2007 renovation.
While the concourse can get a bit narrow in certain sections, it's filled with enough Preds gear, concessions, mementos, and much more to keep your head on a swivel all the way to your seat.
Though the seats can be a bit tight on the hips and armrests, all you really need is the edge of them when the action begins.
It's not hard to tell the layout of Bridgestone Arena is meant to host nearly as many concerts as it is hockey games. When you face the center ice logo head-on, the upper bowl shortens on your right for the fan deck overlooking the Predators' primary offensive zone.
With no obstructed views in its more than 17,000 seats, the arena's seating chart was clearly built with the fans' experience in mind.
Bridgestone, just like any other city's arena you visit, has its quirky happenings. The fans are on a first-name base with in-game commentator Paul McCann, usually finishing his sentences, asking rhetorical questions, and thanking him for the reminders of who scored or how much time remains.
Before the game starts, Nashville team mascot Gnash ropes down from the rafters onto the ice and is followed moments later by the starting lineup skating out of a giant Predators mouth.
Saturday's game saw Roman Josi make his return to Nashville's lineup following a nine-game absence. He and fellow defenseman P.K. Subban were on the ice together for the first time in 22 games after recently battling back from upper-body injuries.
Behind their rejuvenated roster, the Predators came out rolling and put Detroit on its heels. The Red Wings were coming off a late Danny DeKeyser goal from the night before when they beat the visiting New York Islanders 5-4.
After weathering the early storm, Detroit's Mike Green broke through for the visitors by scoring with 1:30 left in the first period, which would prove to be the game-winner.
The intermission was just as unique as any other, featuring live music from the School of Rock, which had its young, aspiring musicians show off their talent on a stage sitting above the rink's Zamboni doors.
The two teams traded shots, powerplays, and scoring chances for the next two periods with Nashville easily leading the way.
However, Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek was ready for it all Saturday night and responded to every shot and rebound on his way to an impressive 42-save shutout -- his first of the year.
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