Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Predators Step On the Ducks 2-1, Advance to the Second Round

The Nashville Predators were going into the hostile environment of the Honda Center to play their first game 7 in their history. The Anaheim Ducks were trying to exorcise their recent failures in a game 7 match up.

And the Predators are making history.

The Ducks are still trying to exorcise those Game 7 demons.

The Predators came out strong with two first period goals by Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad to take a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.

The Predators spent the next 40 minutes absorbing the frantic push by the Ducks. They gave up a power play goal to Ryan Kessler early in the third period to exponentially increase the pucker factor for Pred nation.

Frederick Andersen was outstanding after giving up the first period goals. As good as Andersen was, Pekka Rinne was even better.

No, Rinne was absolutely outstanding.

He was under assault throughout the game, especially in the final 40 minutes. And the big Finn was up to the task. He made some outstanding saves, got some help from a crossbar, and from his D that cleared the puck out of danger.

That effort secured a 2-1 win and a second round match up with the San Jose Sharks.

Some observations:

  • Cody Bass was out of the line up after being injured in game 6. Colton Sissons drew into the line up to replace Bass.
  • This is the first game 7 that the Predators have ever played.
  • Heck of an effort by Colin Wilson to settle the puck and place a perfect backhand under the crossbar. Wilson has been my whipping boy this season, but I have to give him props for stepping up his game in the playoffs. Teams that go deep in the playoffs have to get contributions from their bottom 6 and Wilson has been the best producer for the Predators in the playoffs.
  • How about Paul Gaustad stepping up his game? He has been using his big frame to screen in front of the net and he was rewarded for going to the hard areas with a sweet redirect of the Shea Weber shot just after a power play had ended. This was a huge momentum swing for the Predators and you could hear the air suck out of the Honda Center after that score.
  • Rinne had to come up with some huge saves in the first period to keep the Ducks off the board. The Ducks are talented and they were pressing after going down 2, and Rinne was scrambling but shut the door on the Ducks.
  • The Predators had 4 first year players in the line up. The experience these youngsters are getting is invaluable to their development and bodes well for the future of this team.
  • The best you can say about the second period is that the Predators weathered it. The Ducks had sustained pressure and several quality chances. The Preds are going to have to get their attack mentality back for the third period.
  • Too many times tempting fate and the Ducks finally cash in on a power play. Ryan Kessler perfectly placed a shot past Rinne inside the far post to cut the lead to 1.
  • This game was a perfect example of shoddy officiating. The refs swallowed their whistles and allowed anything short of severing a limb go. And it is a reason that the League continues to struggle with credibility.
  • Goodness gracious, Pekka Rinne was a beast! He made save after save, some spectacular. Rinne was poised and strong between the pipes and was the difference in this game and this series. The Ducks poured pucks on Rinne, totaling 37 shots on net.
What a character win and comeback by the Predators! After losing 3 straight and being given up for dead, the Predators roared back to life and captured the series.

It was a long, tough series. Yet it is a series win that should really boost the confidence of the Predators.

Bask in it, Pred Nation.

It feels good.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Colin Wilson

3. Paul Gaustad

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