By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks looked to force a Game 7 after being down 3-2 in the series against the Nashville Predators. Jonathan Bernier got the start in net because John Gibson had a hamstring injury. Pekka Rinne was in net for Nashville as expected.
Nashville would strike first in this contest. Austin Watson would throw a puck wide of Bernier and it would redirect off Brandon Montour‘s skate in the net. Ryan Kesler was called for interference, which Anaheim was able to kill off the penalty, but Colton Sissions scored shortly after. Later in the period Nick Ritchie was kicked out of the game after he boarded Viktor Arvidsson causing him to bleed on his forecheck. The Ducks penalty stood tall and didn’t allow another goal. Despite being down 2-0, the Ducks played hard in the period and outshot the Predators 12-4.
The Ducks came out hard in the second period and carried the play for the entire 20 minutes. Nashville seemed to be content with the two goal lead and Anaheim continued to pressure them. Anaheim broke through when Ryan Getzlaf found Ondrej Kase alone for a slam dunk goal to get the Ducks within one. Nashville took two penalties in the period, but the Ducks were unable to convert on either power play.
Nashville scored early in the period on another goal by Colton Sissions to extend their lead to 3-1. The Ducks did fight back as Chris Wagner scored by shooting the puck off Rinne’s mask and in. A few minutes later Cam Fowler blasted a point shot past Rinne, which was challenged for goalie interference as Corey Perry had made contact with the goalie. The goal stood as the contact was well before the shot on net. The game was tied and it looked like Anaheim was going to force overtime, but Colton Sissons struck again for a hat trick, giving Nashville the lead at 4-3. The Ducks pulled Bernier a couple of times in the final minutes of the game, but Nashville scored two empty net goals and won 6-3.
Outside of the opening 7-8 minutes of this game, the Ducks actually played one of their best road playoff games this postseason. Not having Rickard Rakell on top of Patrick Eaves didn’t help the matter, but not having John Gibson proved costly. Jonathan Bernier got the start, but was obviously rusty giving up a couple of easy goals in the contest. In his defense, Bernier hadn’t played in a while, but if Gibson started in this contest then one has to wonder if we would be talking about a Game 7 right now.
In looking at the series as a whole the third periods were the downfall of the Ducks. Anaheim had leads in Games 3 and 4 heading into the third period and couldn’t hold them. They lost one game in regulation and had to win the other in overtime. The Ducks also couldn’t pull it out in Game 5 despite being tied at one heading into the final frame. Injuries didn’t help the Ducks, but every team has injuries at this time of year. Hopefully the Ducks can get some quality forwards and make a run next season.
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May 23rd, 2017