(The Sports Xchange) - Colton Sissons’ third goal of the game at 14:00 of the third period broke a tie and led the Predators to a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday as Nashville clinched their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals.
With the score ties at 3-3, Sissons ripped home a one-timer from the left circle that was set up by Calle Jarnkrok, three seconds after the Predators killed off a power-play following a delay-of-game call on Roman Josi.
“There was a turnover and I got lost on the back side,” he said of his tie-breaking goal. “Calle made a beautiful pass, and fortunately I put it away.”
Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson iced the win at 17:38 and 18:26, respectively, with empty-net goals to seal the Western Conference finals series by a 4-2 margin.
Nashville will play either the Ottawa Senators or the Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals, starting May 29 in the Eastern Conference venue. The defending NHL champion Penguins lead that best-of-seven series 3-2.
It is the third different team Nashville coach Peter Laviolette will take to the Cup finals. He won the title with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and lost with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.
“It probably means I got fired a lot,” Laviolette joked about his accomplishment.
Goalie Pekka Rinne made 38 saves for Nashville, which was outshot 41-18 as Anaheim controlled most of the last 50 minutes of action.
Despite the constant barrage of attacks, Rinne never cracked and the league’s lowest playoff seed — Nashville’s 94 points were the fewest of all 16 post-season participants — completed its improbable run to franchise history.
“Our guys know the big picture, what we are trying to do here,” Laviolette said. “But tonight, they are going to enjoy it.”
Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier, making his first career playoff start with starter John Gibson (lower-body injury) scratched, stopped only 12 of the 16 shots he faced.
“This is the worst feeling in hockey,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We worked so hard all year — and in the game — and it is incredibly frustrating.”
Editing by John O'Brien