Ducks' reward for Game 7 win is date with Rinne and Preds

Jonathan Hernandez
May 12, 2017

He grew up playing hockey in Roanoke, Virginia, where his favorite ECHL player was Terence Tootoo whose brother, Jordin, played for Nashville. On to Nashville for the Western Conference Final! The Ducks are slight series favourites on Sports Interaction NHL odds.

However, it was nearly a year ago exactly that the Predators beat the Ducks in Round One of the playoffs. Also, the Predators eliminated the Ducks round one in the 2016 NHL Playoffs. While the Ducks did "park the bus" a bit late in the third, they still managed to dictate to Edmonton what chances they were going to get. The Eastern Conference Final begins on Saturday night from Pittsburgh. It will be Anaheim's first trip to the conference finals since 2015 and its second appearance since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.

The Oilers made the kind of step forward Chiarelli was hopeful of before the season.

Cogliano's first goal of the playoffs energized the home team and fans, forcing Kris Russell to block Antoine Vermette's shot from sailing into an open net less than 30 seconds later. There was some bad news for the Predators in the Blues series as forward Kevin Fiala broke his left leg in Game 1 and is done for the postseason.

Fortunately the Ducks got an extra day off on May 8 where they didn't practice and let their players heal up from a series of injuries during their last two tames against the Oilers, as well as take the time to reset their heads.

Anaheim had a 21-14 faceoff edge at the end of two periods. Still, his post-season performance pales in comparison to that of the Preds' Pekka Rinne, whose.951 save percentage is the best of any goalie this spring.

"That's our message", said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle following the bloodbath. Add the inexperience of the Oilers franchise (Gretzky-Messier & Co. was 25-plus years ago), I can only wager one way: Nashville.

It was a major momentum shift from Game 5 on Friday, when the Ducks pulled off a miracle in the dying minutes and erased a 3-0 deficit with three goals while Gibson was on the bench for an extra attacker, sending the game to double overtime and an eventual 4-3 Ducks win.

Ritchie beat Cam Talbot 3:21 into the third period, his second career playoff goal putting the Ducks ahead in a game seven for the first time in five years - and ahead of the Oilers for the first time in almost 193 minutes since late in game four. The Ducks are also just 2-6 in Game 7s in their history while the Oilers are 6-3. He now ranks third overall in the entire league for postseason points with 15.

Nine-time world champion Sweden won 2-0 against previously unbeaten Latvia on Thursday and is in fourth place in Group A, with two wins and two defeats - one of those in a shootout - for seven points. The Ducks are now 22-12 since the start of the 2015 postseason, the best winning percentage in the National Hockey League (.647).

Why? Why does a team that's won five straight Pacific Division titles constantly drop must-win situations?

Once the Ducks killed off the penalty, they uncorked perhaps their best sustained period of the 7-game series. Eaves had 32 regular-season goals combined with Dallas and Anaheim. Bieksa averaged 18:45 of ice time during the season with three goals and 11 assists. In that last Game 7, they lost 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes in the deciding game of the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

After opening the series with two wins in Anaheim and letting a three-goal lead slip through their fingers with less than four minutes remaining in regulation in Game 5, the Oilers knew this series could have turned out differently. "I have to come up with a couple of saves and maybe it's different, maybe it's not".

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