By: Matthew Garcia
Two nights ago the Anaheim Ducks managed to even up the series against the Nashville Predators at two games apiece. It took extra time as the Predators completed a third period comeback tying the game up at two with 35 seconds left in regulation, undisciplined penalties are what cost the Ducks in the third period as they were on the receiving end of four minor penalties in the last 12 minutes of the game. Corey Perry would once again be the overtime hero as he would fire a shot from the corner and the puck would ricochet off of Subban and into the back of the net. The starting goalies would be John Gibson for Anaheim and Pekka Rinne for Nashville.
The Anaheim Ducks began the game with a little jump in their step as the opening face-off commenced they were quick to play in the Nashville zone, and the payoff was almost immediate as they would be the recipient of the games first power play as James Neal would take a seat in the penalty box for two minutes on a slashing penalty. It would be the perfect opportunity for the Ducks to start off strong, despite their efforts the Predators were able to kill off the penalty and get back to even strength. The Ducks would get yet another crack at the power play as Colton Sissons would be given a penalty in the offensive zone for tripping Brandon Montour. The Ducks would fire everything at Rinne, but he would hold the fort for Nashville allowing them to kill off the second consecutive penalty to keep the game scoreless. Late in the period it would be the Predators turn to take a crack at the power play as Jakob Silfverberg would be given a two-minute minor for tripping. The Ducks’ penalty kill would continue to be strong as they would kill off their first penalty of the game while not allowing any grade A scoring chances. The first period horn would sound and we would head into the first intermission scoreless.
Jonathan Bernier would skate out onto the ice and start the second period for the Ducks as Gibson would sit out due to a lower-body injury sustained in the waning minutes of the first period. Bernier would get tested quick as he would face a shot from point blank range from Forsberg, and he would come up big to keep Nashville from taking a 1-0 lead early in the second. The Ducks would finally break through just past the midway point of the second period as Chris Wagner would be fresh off the bench, crash the net and find a loose puck to the left of Rinne and slide the puck into a yawning net to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead at the 12:46 mark of the middle frame. The Ducks would get a chance to extend that lead as Filip Forsberg would be given a two-minute minor for hooking against Sami Vatanen. The Ducks would once again throw everything at Rinne and would find themselves in a scramble in front of the Nashville net but would be unable to convert and the penalty would expire putting them at 0/3 on the night in the power play department. Late in the second period Josh Manson would take a stick up high, but it would go uncalled, and a retaliation penalty would be levied against Manson as he would give Forsberg a cross-check in front of the Anaheim net. Nashville would make Anaheim pay for the late penalty as Colin Wilson would find a loose puck in front of the net and flip a backhand shot over the shoulder of Bernier and into the net tying the game up at one in the final minute of play of the second period. The horn would sound and we would head into the second intermission all tied up at one.
Out of the gates in the third period Anaheim would once again go hard at Rinne, but the Nashville netminder would be up for the task turning aside everything that the Ducks threw his way. Despite several opportunities the Ducks would find themselves on the wrong side of the eight ball just past the half way mark of the final period as Pontus Aberg would find a puck laying directly in front of Bernier and would slide the puck into the net for a Nashville lead and his first career playoff goal at the 11:01 mark of the third. The Ducks would pull Bernier in the final minute of play in hopes of tying the game and sending it into extra time, but it would not be the case as Austin Watson would pot his second goal of the post-season giving Nashville a 3-1 lead with less than a minute to play in the game. The Ducks would not be able to have an answer for yet another hot performance from Rinne and would drop game five heading back to Nashville in a do-or-die situation.
Final Score: Nashville-3 Anaheim-1
The Ducks headed into a pivotal game five without the services of not only Patrick Eaves but now Rickard Rakell, more bad news for Anaheim would hit when Bernier would lead the Ducks out onto the ice for the second period leaving fans wondering what is going on with Gibson. Anaheim is also facing a Nashville team who is without their top two centers in Ryan Johansen, and Mike Fisher. The Ducks would be the ones to get on the board early, but as history shows undisciplined penalties cost the Ducks the lead, and would swing momentum the opposite way. If the Ducks are to win game six they will need to cut back on the undisciplined penalties, get more bodies in front of Rinne, and most importantly keep the puck away from Rinne to keep him from playing the puck and sending it back up ice.
Game 6: Anaheim @ Nashville Monday night at 5 PM PT. We will have a watch party at El Ranchito in Orange! Come join us for good food and drink!
El Ranchito, 182. S. Orange St., Orange, CA 92868
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May 21st, 2017