Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

James Neal delivers in OT as Predators edge Ducks

James Neal delivers in OT as Predators edge Ducks

Having finally put an end to their demonizing streak of Game 7 postseason failures on their home ice, the Anaheim Ducks will host the upstart Nashville Predators on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

After beating Anaheim in two previous playoff series, the fantastic Finn and his Predators are looming again in front of the Ducks in the Western Conference finals. But that replay was never shown in Honda Center, leaving Ducks fans muttering for the remainder of the first period.

The Predators look to continue their remarkable start to the National Hockey League playoffs as they head into Anaheim for game one of the Western Conference final and with a victory here the Preds would not only steal home ice advantage in a hurry they would pull off their ninth win in just 10 games in these playoffs.

Like the Predators, the Ducks swept their way into the second round, defeating Calgary in four games.

Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf expressed a sense of triumph and relief after the win. "We just need to get back to playing our game".

We'd all love to see a repeat performance, but we'll settle for just one more goal than Anaheim tonight.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle didn't blame Gibson and said it's about the entire team being better. "They dominated us and we didn't move our feet", Carlyle said. At times, Anaheim's players looked like they were skating in slush.

Edmonton coach Todd McLellan was upbeat in discussing the painful loss, knowing that his youthful team looks to be continuing the upward arc toward championship contention.

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"It's going to be insane. we've been waiting since '06 to get down here", said fan Jason Jordan Gogal. "I think every game, he's been our best player". "We weren't afraid of the stage". The Ducks are in the West Finals for the second time in three years (lost to Chicago in 2015).

Anaheim had a somewhat more hard path to the conference final, having swept the Calgary Flames in the first round before needing seven games to dispose of the Edmonton Oilers.

American Watson scored early in the second to give the Predators their first lead of the game but then Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm tied it 2-2 with a wrist shot from the left point that glanced off the post and in. Sami Vatanen gained possession in the right corner of the Ducks' offensive zone and found an unguarded Ritchie in the right faceoff circle.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71), from Russian Federation, skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) defends, during the first period of Game 7 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference sem. The second time, it appeared that Ryan Kesler grabbed Talbot during a scramble in the crease to prevent him from stopping the tying goal with 15 seconds left.

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.

Theodore had the puck and mistakenly turned into Gibson while trying to escape the forecheck of Drake Caggiula, who swatted Theodore's stick sending the puck past a surprised Gibson.

This series sets up well now for Nashville, which hadn't played a game in five days while the Ducks played two days ago. D Kevin Bieksa missed his sixth straight game, while F Patrick Eaves missed his fourth straight game with a leg injury.

"For us to come down here with a team so young and to compete with the Ryan Getzlafs and the Corey Perrys and all those guys and still go toe-to-toe and still come out ahead, it's a really big accomplishment", he said. The Ducks reassigned LW Nicolas Kerdiles and C Sam Carrick to their AHL San Diego affiliate.

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