Uncharted territory: Predators force Game 7

Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:11am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - Call it a new frontier for the Nashville Predators, one the Anaheim Ducks know all too well.

Snapping a scoreless tie with second-period goals by Mattias Ekholm and James Neal, Nashville nursed its lead to the final horn in a 3-1 win over Anaheim on Monday at Bridgestone Arena.

By evening the first-round Western Conference series at three games apiece, the Predators forced the first Game 7 in franchise history on Wednesday in Anaheim.

"Every kid playing hockey plays in a Game 7," Neal said. "They're exciting. It's where heroes are made. You step up in those big moments. There will be some nerves, but I believe in this team. Just enjoy it."

The Predators stayed alive thanks to 26 saves from goalie Pekka Rinne in his best effort of the playoffs.

While Nashville has never been in this spot, the Ducks ended their season with Game 7 defeats the last three seasons after holding 3-2 series leads, as they did in this series.

In last year's Western Conference finals, Anaheim lost 5-3 to the Chicago Blackhawks, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said previous failures should not have any effect on his team's performance in the do-or-die game.

"It's a new team, it's a new time," he said. "Every day is different, every game is different. We're looking forward to the game."   Continued...

Apr 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) celebrates after a goal by right winger James Neal (not pictured) past Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports