Predators beat Ducks to advance to Stanley Cup Final

Nashville is on to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

Brayton Wilson
May 22, 2017 - 11:33 pm

Photo: Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

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For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators are heading to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Predators clinched their berth to the final round on Monday with a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Injuries were an issue leading up to this game as both Anaheim and Nashville were missing some key pieces.

Nashville ended up playing without center Ryan Johansen, who will miss the rest of the postseason after undergoing surgery for acute compartment syndrome in his thigh. The Predators also did not have captain Mike Fisher and forward Craig Smith. Fisher sat out with an apparent head injury, while Smith skated before Monday's game but did not play with an undisclosed injury. 

For Anaheim, three big pieces to the puzzle were missing for their must-win Game 6 on the road. The biggest name out of the lineup was goalie John Gibson, who was scratched for Jonathan Bernier due to a lower-body injury. Gibson left Saturday's Game 5 in Anaheim early due to the same injury. The Ducks also did not have the services of Patrick Eaves and Rickard Rakell for Monday's game. Eaves has not played since Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Edmonton Oilers, while Rakell was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Nashville jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after Austin Watson netted his third of the postseason just 1:21 into the first period. Colton Sissons scored just 7:26 later to put the Predators up 2-0 and send Nashville into an early frenzy.

Anaheim cut the deficit to one in the second period with a goal from Ondrej Kase just 4:45 in.

The score remained 2-1 into the third period when Nashville regained their two-goal lead three minutes in with another goal from Sissons. The goal was originally credited to Pontus Aberg, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 5.

However, Anaheim struck again just two minutes later courtesy of Chris Wagner to make it a 3-2 game. Just 3:52 later, it was Cam Fowler with a shot from the point that beat Pekka Rinne for the game-tying goal. Nashville challenged the play for goalie interference as Corey Perry knocked down Rinne just seconds before the goal, but the call stood.

With exactly six minutes left go play in regulation, Sissons put the Predators back on top for good with his third goal of the game. Sissons found some open space on Bernier's glove side and buried a pass off the stick of Calle Jarnkrok.

The Ducks pulled Bernier early for the extra attacker, but Nashville would put the puck into the net twice in the final 2:22 of the game. Filip Forsberg and Watson put the nail in the coffin for the Ducks to officially crown the Predators as Western Conference Champions.

Rinne was tested early and often by the Ducks, but was up to the test as he has been the entire postseason. He turned away 38 of 41 shots faced on the night.

As for Bernier, he was shaky early and was not able to help his team stay alive as he made just 12 saves on 16 shots faced.

Nashville will await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins currently hold a three games to two series lead over the Ottawa Senators with Game 6 of the series taking place on Tuesday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario. Faceoff is at 8 p.m. and can be heard on WGR Sports Radio 550.

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