Published: Sun, May 21, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

National Hockey League playoffs: Ducks eager for rematch with Rinne's Predators in West final

The Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, tied 3-3, meet in a deciding Game 7 of their NHL Western Conference playoff series on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

The Ducks meanwhile need to regroup after a less than stellar performance in the series opener, though if there is anything they can take from their game one loss is that they didn't play almost up to their potential and still managed to send the game to overtime.

Anaheim advances to the Western Conference finals against the Nashville Predators. Johansen has been a key piece in Nashville's run to the franchise's first ever berth in the Western Conference finals.

Watson then put the Predators ahead early in the second period with his first playoff goal, banking his shot in off Anaheim defenseman Sami Vatanen.

Silfverberg evened it in the opening minute of the second period, cashing in Rickard Rakell's pass on the back side of Rinne for the ninth goal of the Swede's outstanding postseason.

"I'm anxious to get back out on the ice", Rinne said.

"They were physical and we know they're a physical team".

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The Ducks offense is balanced, as they have gotten major contributions from multiple players. "(It's) just like we had when we were kids - what my parents threw during the playoffs.

Nick Ritchie, Ducks - Ritchie now has three goals in the playoffs and two in the last two games of the series after scoring the game victor.

Anaheim tied the game at 2 on Lindholm's first goal of the playoffs at 7:22 of the third period to force overtime. To see that third goal - that empty-netter - that's a great relief.

"What can you say about this group?"

The Ducks' success won't hinge entirely on these guys, but this series is going to be close in many areas.

John Gibson's performance between the pipes had a lot to do with that, and might be the biggest positive to come from this contest for the Ducks. This series will be the biggest test of the playoffs for Nashville center Ryan Johansen, who had just one assist in three games against the Ducks during the regular season. They outshot the Ducks 15-6 through 20 minutes.

"It's really hard to get here, and you put in a ton of work to give yourself a chance to play for the Stanley Cup", Nashville forward James Neal said.

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This is where the Leafs can learn from the Ducks and Predators, because they relied on their ability to improve their defence internally.

A top Conn Smythe Trophy candidate thus far is Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a moderately disappointing regular season by his usual high standards.

By contrast Nashville wrapped up their National Hockey League quarter-final series early and came into game one of the semi-finals at the Honda Center arena after four days rest. Rinne also has a sparkling 1.37 goals-against average. I don't think anyone would have believed us for a second. If you look at the first period, they really came on us with a lot of pressure. They have taken down two O6 teams and now look to dethrone the champs. I mean, we got to keep shooting. If you exclude Gibson's nightmarish Game 5 against the Oilers, in which he allowed three goals on six shots, he improves to.916. Patrick Maroon had a shot turned away by Gibson. However, the play had been blown dead for offside a split second before the shot.

NOTES: Anaheim remained without two key injured veterans.

With Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera out of the lineup, Benning moved up to the second defensive pairing and afirst power-play unit for Game 6.

"Eleven years not in the playoffs and we took a very good team to seven games in the second round". Their series starts on Friday May 12. The sellout crowd filled in throughout the night.

"I don't know whether from coaching or playing whether you get into a mental block or not", said Bruce Boudreau, who coached in Game 7 four times with the Capitals and four times with the Ducks. With that in mind, it'd be shocking if nerves even slightly bothered the Ducks, especially given the dragon the organization slayed with the winner-takes-all victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

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Dzeko sent a thunderbolt into the back net to make it 5-2 and Inglese scored a late consolation for Chievo but the match finished 5-3.

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