So far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team to win game five when the series is tied 2-2 has went on to win the series all five times, so Saturday night’s Western Conference Final game 5 in Anaheim was set up to be a huge game for both teams. It’s already been a long series for both teams as the Nashville Predators lost Ryan Johansen for the rest of the playoffs and captain Mike Fisher in game 4, while the Anaheim Ducks lost leading scorer Rikard Rakell. The two banged up teams played a great game that saw the Predators coming out on top 3-1.
The Ducks’ Chris Wagner would strike first after a scoreless first period. Then, with less than a minute left in the second period, P.K. Subban put a shot on net that was bounced around and eventually cleaned up by Colin Wilson to tie the game on a powerplay goal. Halfway through the third and final period, Fillip Forsberg dished the puck off to Mattias Ekholm, who would have his miss cleaned up by a falling shot from Pontus Aberg that would give Nashville their first lead of the night. The scoring wrapped up with Austin Watson launching one down the ice and scoring on an empty net to seal the victory.
One of the biggest turning points of the game was John Gibson’s first period injury. The Ducks’ starting goalie had saved all 10 shots on goal up to that point and has had a great series and playoffs. Gibson wouldn’t return and his backup, Jonathan Bernier allowed 2 goals and only had a save percentage of .889. Nashville’s goalie Pekka Rinne was as remarkable as everyone would expect with 32 saves and a save percentage of .970. The Predators were also much more efficient on power plays, scoring on 1 of their 2 attempts while the Ducks failed to score on any of their 4 attempts.
The series is looking to be all in the Nashville Predators favor, but if they make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, you have to wonder how effective they would be. Team leader in points, Ryan Johansen, has already been ruled out for the playoffs and captain Mike Fisher after injuries in game 4 and lost Craig Smith in game 3. Game 5 saw Aberg score the game winner and immediately leave for concussion protocol.
The team, founded in 1997, is currently playing in their first conference final after falling to the Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks in the second round last year. Making this year even more historic is the fact that the Predators could be only the second eight seed to win a Stanley Cup and just like the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, it would be their first Stanley Cup win. Nashville definitely didn’t have a great regular season, but after sweeping the Stanley Cup favorite Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, they definitely made themselves contenders and are now one win away from a birth in the Stanley Cup Finals.