The Nashville Predators will be appearing in a Game 7 for the first time in franchise history against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday evening.
Nashville won the first two games of the best-of-seven series on the road, then the Ducks won the next three. Facing a Game 6 elimination, the Predators notched a 3-1 victory inside a lively Bridgestone Arena Monday. The win marked the first time in team history they have won a Game 6 elimination game.
Meanwhile, the Ducks are beginning to have flashbacks of being knocked out of the playoffs in each of the past three years despite holding a 3-2 series lead. Furthermore, Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau is the only coach in league history to lose six times in a Game 7 and is 1-6 lifetime in Game 7’s.
Like many series this postseason, this one has not exactly been a barn-burner in scoring. In each game, the losing team has scored two or fewer goals, making goaltending a critical aspect in each teams’ successes.
Frederik Andersen, who came in relief of John Gibson in Game 3, has been the fuel for the Ducks’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit. In four starts, he has a 1.26 goals-against average, a .955 save-percentage and a shutout. Though the Predators were finally able to defeat Andersen, they have yet to score more than two goals on him and still have not completely solved him like they did Gibson.
The driving force of the Predators is Pekka Rinne. It always has been and always will be. When Rinne is locked in, he is hard to beat. Ask the Ducks, who scored just five goals combined in the three Predators’ wins. After stopping 26 shots in Game 6, Rinne will be called on again to push the Predators to the second round.
Lock-Down Corey Perry
Nashville’s defense has done an excellent job locking down Corey Perry, who led Anaheim in goals with 34 throughout the regular season. Through six games, Perry has yet to score a goal and has a minus-6 rating but does have four assists to his credit.
Noted irritant James Neal has battled with Perry all series whether that be after the whistle or even in warm-ups. Neal needs to continue getting under Perry’s skin because it is working in the Preds’ favor.
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) April 26, 2016
The team that has scored first has won four of six games. For the Predators, as the road team, it will be critical for them to score first in order to establish momentum and silence the raucous crowd inside the Honda Center. Nashville won 29 of 45 when scoring first in the regular season and two of three this series.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.