Predators Win Thriller at Home to Advance to First Ever Stanley Cup Finals

Predators Win Thriller at Home to Advance to First Ever Stanley Cup Finals

After the Predators stunned the Ducks at home in game 5 without their two top centers (Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher), the series moved back to Nashville for the biggest home game in Predators franchise history. The Predators were founded in the 98-99 season and have never made it to the Western Conference final or the Stanley Cup. This would be the first home game ever for them with a chance to clinch the West and move onto the Cup Finals. The Preds would go game 6 without Johansen and Fisher again. They have accumulated 18 different forwards to play, which is tied for an NHL record. 10 different game winning goal scorers in the 11 games. They would need this depth to keep up. The Ducks would be without their young star Rakell who was a top scorer during the regular season and playoffs so far. Ducks goalie, John Gibson, would remain out and Jonathan Bernier would get the start. As backup, he went 11 games in row without losing in regulation.

It would be the Ducks who would come out flying right away, getting a prime scoring chance on their first attack..

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However, Rinne would make the big time save and keep the game scoreless. The Preds would clear and force the Ducks to ice the puck and get an offensive zone face off. Rookie Fredrick Gaudreau would come out for the faceoff. Game 5 was his first playoff game in his career after playing just 9 games during the regular season. In game 5 he gave the Preds a YUGE (trump voice) boost in winning faceoffs where they struggled against the Ducks. With Johansen and Fisher out, this looked like it was going to be an even bigger problem, but Gaudreau stepped up winning 10 of 14 faceoffs total and 5 of 6 in the offensive zone. He would win another offensive zone faceoff here and it would result in the Preds first goal of the game. Watson, who leads the team in hits, would throw it to the net for the Preds first shot of the game and get a fortunate bounce off a defender…

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Bernier should have gotten a stick on that puck to clear it away from the net. Was he screened, was there a lack of communication from not being able to hear anything or was it just nerves? Who knows, Preds up 1-0 just 2 minutes in. The team to score first was 1-4 in the first 5 games of this series. The Ducks would control most of the first period getting a majority of the shots (12-4 Ducks) and scoring chances but Rinne was fantastic. On just their third shot of the game about halfway through the period, the Preds would strike again. Ducks defender, Cam Fowler, would make a terrible pass exiting his defensive zone and cause a turnover at mid-ice. Sissons would intercept the pass, dish to Aberg who enters the zone and passes back to Sissions who would bury it…

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Great play by Sissions and Aberg both who simply wanted it more than the Duck skaters. The Preds needed their role players to step up with their big guns out and they did. The crowd was pretty quite from the Ducks controlling the puck, but they came alive after the 2-0 lead. I love their chant. They yell, “__Goalies Name__ Hey! You Suck!” then they chant “Its all your fault! Its all your fault!” A few minutes after they took the 2-0 lead, the Preds would get a 5 minute power play after Ritchie would check Arvidsson dangerously into the boards. Arvidsson would bleed from the forehead but not miss a shift. The Ducks would win the first faceoff and clear. On the clear Ryan Kesler would reek havoc and create a great scoring chance. Rinne would make two phenominal saves after Subban got lazy and turned over the puck. First on Kesler on the wrap around and another on Thompson on the rebound…

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The Ducks would kill the penalty and not allow the Preds to even get a shot. This gave the Ducks energy going into the 2nd period. The Ducks would come out in the 2nd and control play again. About 5 minutes into the 2nd, the Preds would ice the puck after the Ducks got sustained pressure. The Preds defenders were gassed and the Ducks took advantage. Getzlaf won the faceoff clean, Vatanen took a shot from the point which produced a rebound for Getzlaf who dished it to a wide open Ondrej Kase who would bury it…

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The Ducks would outshoot the Preds 13-4 in the 2nd, making the shot total 25-8 after 2 periods. But the Preds would remain up 2-1, mainly because of the outstanding play of Rinne. The Ducks would come out and keep their pressure up in the 3rd. But, just 3 minutes in the Preds would dump and chase into the offensive zone and get another to make it 3-1…

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Just a great job by Forsberg to beat Thompson on the boards to allow the puck to roll to Aberg who would generate the chance for Sissons to clean it up. The Predators forwards just wanted it more than the Ducks players. The Preds have been so dominate at home because of their play in the 3rd period. Posting a +13 goal differential at home in the 3rd period. This got the crowd into the game, but as the fans were chanting at the Ducks goalie, the Ducks would answer to lessen the gap. Sustained offensive pressure would allow Wagner to make this nice play…

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He simply just beat McLeod and hit it off Rinne’s head and into the net. Just 3 minutes after the Ducks brought it within 1, they would tie the game on a blast from the point by Fowler…

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The Preds would challenge the goal becuase Perry went down in the crease and took Rinne with him. This made Rinne have to scramble to make that save, which he couldn’t. However the refs would keep it as a good goal. Tough break for the Preds but just a great shot by Fowler also. Less than a minute after tying the game, the Ducks would get a power play and have all the momentum. However, the Preds would do a great job on the penalty kill. As the final seconds ticked away on the power play, Sissons and Jarnkrok would attack the fatigued Ducks. They would go 2 on 4 and score to take the lead. Sissons would out muscle Fowler and throw him to the ground to get wide open for the one-timed finish…

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WOW. Sissons says get the fuck off me and buries the Ducks season all in one. Sissons, a guy who is getting more ice time becuase of the critical injuries gets his hatrick and the eventual game winner. The Ducks would pull Bernier with 2:30 left and Forsberg would hit a full length shot on the empty net to be the final dagger. His 8th of the playoffs which is a franchise record. What a game. The Preds needed their role players to step up and they did in every aspect of the game. Pekka Rinne is the longest tenured player on the Preds, a 8th round pick in 2004, and is finally getting the credit he deserves. True professional. Laviolette becomes the 3rd coach ever to lead 3 different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals. Smashville is onto the Cup!

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