Breaking down the game with Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network. Includes clips from Pekka Rinne, Mattias Ekholm, Shea Weber, Ryan Johansen and Peter Laviolette.
For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have won a Game 6 to force a Game 7. With their 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, the Predators will now travel to California for final, deciding game of the series Wednesday night.
Trailing the series 3-2 after taking a 2-0 in Anaheim, the Predators faced elimination on Monday night. From the drop of the puck, the sense of urgency from Nashville could be felt. From the physicality of the hits to the tenacity of driving to the net, the Predators gave everything they had, and the results prove that.
“We didn’t give up too much, we didn’t create too much, but when that first puck got in I thought the whole building just exploded and so did we too,” said Mattias Ekholm, who opened the scoring for Nashville. “We followed it up with a couple of good shifts and got it down their end, almost scored on the next shift. It was something that just took some weight off of our shoulders I think, we felt like we can score now and we got that first goal.
Monday night’s win was also the first home win of the series for Nashville. They dropped games 3 & 4 at home last week, so it was special to the players to get the win in front of the home fans.
“You could tell the way we played, especially playing at home it was nice to get that win,” said Pekka Rinne. “I have to say about these fans, they’re unbelievable. It was so much fun and a great atmosphere, and thank you guys. It was a lot of fun and a great win, but like I said, I’m just really excited about the Game Seven.
What was different from the past three games that Nashville dropped was the execution of their game plan. The players speak so often of playing a 60-minute game and playing their style of hockey. That could be seen throughout the entirety of the match. While the first period was a back and forth battle, during the second period, the Predators pushed the pace. They may have been out-attempted by the Ducks in the second, but Nashville had more quality chances, and that showed on the scoreboard as they put up two goals.
“I liked the way we pushed the pace in the second period,” said Peter Laviolette. “In the second period, we seemed to crank up our game and get it going in the right direction. The building was great, the fans were great. We were just able in the second period to push the pace the way we wanted to. In the third period, I think it was a little different mindset. To get the looks that were available, make sure we are layered properly, managing our discipline, managing the game. All of those things we talked about going into the third (period) when you have the lead. We thought we did a pretty good job of it and by doing so eliminated a lot of shots and chances.
Now, things go back to Anaheim for a pivotal Game 7. This franchise has yet to experience a Game 7 in its history. On the other hand, the Anaheim Ducks have a history of blowing 3-2 series leads. They have squandered the ability to close out a series in three straight years. In those three years, the Ducks have held a 3-2 series lead and have lost Game 7 at home. In previous season, Anaheim has blown 3-2 series leads to Detroit, Los Angeles and Chicago. Against L.A. and Chicago, the Ducks lost by two or more goals. This is Nashville’s opportunity to take advantage of that and move on to the second round.
“Obviously I’d like to sweep every series, so I don’t have to play any Game Sevens, but definitely you watch them and it’s exciting,” said Shea Weber. “You never know what could happen and we’re looking to go in their building and play another solid game.”
Game 7 is set for Wednesday night at 9:00pm Central Standard Time. It can be seen locally on Fox Sports Tennessee and nationally on NBC Sports Network.
Photo credit: Christina McCullough