Energized Ducks even Western finals, beat Predators 5-3


The Predators have faced the Ducks in two previous playoff series and have won them both.

The Anaheim Ducks have beaten the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 to advance to the NHL's Western Conference finals for the second time in three years.

"It was huge", forward Austin Watson said of the game one win. "So just take advantage of it. Know what's at stake".

If anyone saw Ryan Getzlaf in that second series against the Oilers then they know "beast" is the aptest term for his performance.

After four years of agony and over a decade of fruitless Game 7s, the Ducks are finally the victors of a winner-take-all game - and now they're halfway to another Stanley Cup. "There's still a little bit of inconsistency in our game, but we'll grow up and we'll fix that as we move forward".

"Whoever's picking us as the underdog, that's fine", Neal said. "We're going to have to be prepared, and we'll start that process tonight and tomorrow morning". A notion that the Oilers would one day look back at this second-round series as the moment this team learned what it was capable of in the playoffs.

X-factor: Ryan Ellis. Nashville always has a defenseman who goes from sleeper to an on-the-radar threat.

The Ducks aren't willing to say they've found new playoff toughness, but their renewed vigor in this particular postseason is exemplified by Getzlaf, whose first two rounds were among the best of the 2007 Stanley Cup champion's long playoff career. The Ducks went scoreless on four power plays.

Anaheim hung on through a frenetic third period, surviving a few mad scrambles before captain Ryan Getzlaf got his third assist of the night on Vermette's empty-netter. The Predators got 11 power-play shots in the game but couldn't get any of them past John Gibson.

The Ducks have excelled with youth on the blue line. The line was held to just seven points in six second-round games after putting up a combined 15 points in four outings against the Blackhawks.

As noted above, the Predators are winning the shot battle against the Ducks so far. Early in the game, Anaheim dominated but Nashville did win faceoffs later that gave them possession.

The game operations folks at Honda Center tried to help.

"We basically got a college degree in a month when it comes to the playoffs", McLellan said. "But we've got to earn it tomorrow". Carlyle has warned his players to think of Rinne as a third defenseman on the ice capable of starting a rush with a breakout pass.

Even with the ugly shot numbers this postseason, and even without a couple of key players due to injury (which has nearly certainly contributed to those shot numbers), the Penguins have still found a way to average 3.23 goals per game in the playoffs, by far the highest mark in the league.

"We just stayed with it", Josi said. "I don't think that we can afford to have the start that we had today", Carlyle told the newspaper.

While Rinne appears to be at the peak of his skills again, his counterpart still has something to prove. One stat that remained constant throughout the constant was shot attempts; Nashville took 12 more shots than Anaheim did in the first period, although the Ducks scored on their only shot.

Kesler and linemates Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano did a stellar defensive job against Connor McDavid in the second round.

The Predators drew even on a redirection by Filip Forsberg. "We just need to get back to playing our game". The Ducks will try to avoid an 0-2 hole for the second consecutive series when they face off against the Predators on Sunday night at the Honda Center. While Neal scored the victor, he was only open to score on P.K. Subban's pass because the defenseman froze the entire Anaheim defense with a picture-perfect shot fake. Reaching the first Western Conference final in franchise history is spreading hockey fever far beyond the arena walls and the team's loyal fans, sprouting Predators' flags on front porches with upcoming opponents televised at barbecue joints.