By Michael Walters
Nashville went right to work with their game plan of being physical. Right off the start of the game Viktor Arvidsson earned a goalie interference penalty as he ran into Andersen. The Ducks didn’t score on the power play. A few minutes later the Ducks were called for too many men on the ice, but Anaheim was able to kill the penalty off. Nashville played physical with Paul Gaustad and Hampus Lindholm appearing to try some MMA moves on ice. Then Shea Weber high sticked Jakob Silfverberg later on in the period. The Predators delivered plenty of hits in this period, but several of their players also went back to their bench limping. There was no score and Nashville lead in the shots eight to seven.
Nashville continued their strong play and got on the board first when Mattias Ekholm scored as Andersen was screened on the play. The Predators applied tremendous pressure for the next several shifts and Andersen made every save that came his way. Late in the period the Predators would get a 2-on-1 break and James Neal would score to give Nashville a 2-0. The Ducks would get a power play shortly after and Ryan Kesler would get to a loose puck to make 2-1. Nashville lead in shots 12 to 11 in this period.
The Ducks came out stronger in this period. Corey Perry had a chance at point blank range, but Rinne made the stop. David Perron also had a quality chance that was blocked by Rinne’s leg pad. The Ducks continued to pressure and pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get the tying goal. Nashville scored an empty net goal and won 3-1.
Key Moment of the Game
The final minutes of the third period. Rinne made some key saves to prevent the Ducks from tying the game up.
Key Stat of the Game
21 blocked shots by Nashville. The Predators got in the shooting lanes and didn’t allow too many quality scoring chances for the Ducks.
Player of the Game
Pekka Rinne. After losing three games in a row, he bounced back only giving up one goal and making big saves late in the third period.
Nashville’s strategy was two-fold to start this game. First, they ramped up their physical play making hard checks, especially on the Ducks defensive players. Second, they played their best players the most in this game. Shea Weber‘s total ice time was 26:34 and Roman Josi‘s was 26:08 leading the way for the entire team. James Neal clocked 21:20 total time and Filip Forsberg had 18:47 total ice time. And the strategy worked for the first 40 minutes of the game as they built a 2-0 and almost held the Ducks scoreless until at late second period goal by Kesler.
Much has been made of the Ducks issues with game seven’s as they have lost three of them in each of the last three postseasons. Another issue for Anaheim has been their game six performances too. The Ducks have won one game six in their last five opportunities over the past three postseasons. The Ducks can’t afford to start off game seven tentative or they may be hitting the golf course soon.
The Ducks will play game seven on Wednesday at 7pm.