With Ryan Johansen out for the playoffs and Mike Fisher sitting, the advantage for Anaheim was even more apparent down the middle. The Ducks wouldn’t be without their own loss for Game 5 however, as Rickard Rakell was a late scratch due to an upper-body injury. These playoffs are truly a test of depth.
The Ducks would get the first chance to score as the captain found Fowler streaking down the ice. Cam split the D but fired hard and high over the net. Soon after, James Neal blatantly slashed Kesler and the Ducks went to the first power play of the night. The man advantage didn’t look dangerous and the breakouts seemed discombobulated as Nashville killed it.
Sissons followed suit and took two for tripping. This power play looked way better. Right off the bat, Ryan Kesler had a great chance with a rebound in his feet but sent the puck wide. The man can’t buy a goal, he has only scored once this postseason. Getzlaf had several chances but Anaheim couldn’t bury it. During the power play, John Gibson took all day to a play a puck dumping it behind his net right to Viktor Arvidsson. He found Fiddler in front but Gibby recovered and made the save. He looked slow getting up though.
The nastiness in this game certainly grabbed attention. Boll was smashed face first near the benches and Kerdiles stepped in to defend his man. He high-sticked McLeod, and the two off them went off for a couple of matching penalties. Soon after, the hatred grew as Cody McLeod trucked Boll again, sending him limping to the bench. The shutdown line had a great shift until Cogs had a shot blocked that led to Nashville gaining the zone. Silfy would then get caught tripping Forsberg and head off.
Off the face-off, Cam Fowler took an awkward fall and gave Duck nation a scare as he went to the bench immediately. He came back soon after, so relax. Nashville had a few chances to score as Forsberg was causing all sorts of trouble. As the penalty expired, PK Subban fired a shot off the boards and Neal found the puck so he threw it into Gibby. The Ducks would then finally clear. The period would end on a dull note as the Preds sat behind their net. SOG after one, 10-10.
Gibby was nowhere to be found as the second kicked off. Jonathan Bernier was given the reigns in net. Viktor Arvidsson tested Bernier quickly with a clapper and Bernier took care of it. Watson then took his turn soon after and a rebound occurred this time. It was clear that the Preds were throwing everything they could on net with the fresh tendy now in. During this push, Josh Manson absolutely destroyed McLeod behind Anaheim’s net. It was fun and totally clean. Going the other way, Boll took a shot on goal and after the whistle he found McLeod for some shoving and talking. Cody McLeod sure gets around.
Aberg and Forsberg played catch down low and created great chance to score as Sissons fell “accidentally” on Bernier. The Predators were jumping all over Anaheim, they looked really energized. Cam Fowler showed off his skating this period as he literally went around in a circle in the Preds zone. Unfortunately, he could not find anyone in front. The Preds went back to the forecheck but the Ducks fourth line regained momentum.
Brandon Montour is good at hockey. Montour made a nice play by rubbing the puck out off the wall to Silfy. He made a nifty little pass to Kesler and the Ducks broke out. The Ducks gained the zone and Silfverberg found a hustling Montour down the middle. Monty took a hard, low shot and the rebound was cashed in by Chris Wagner. 1-0 Ducks.
The shutdown line continued to push as Cogliano’s rebound bounced through Silfverberg. Down on the other end of the rink, Forsberg earned himself a trip to the box as he hooked down the Vatman. The Ducks power play had several opportunities to grab a 2-0 lead. Perry found a rebound but it hit Kesler and then another shot went wide. The Ducks were pushing it on those shot passes. Nothing hit twine sadly.
The frustration really began with the Manson penalty. He was clearly high sticked by Forsberg but the refs missed it. Right after, he would be the one caught cross checking Forsberg up in the neck. On the power play, Subban took a wrist shot that was blocked by Vatanen, but Sissons freed the puck and Colin Wilson backhanded the biscuit off the post and in with under 45 seconds to go. Tied 1-1. SOG in the second, 13-11 Anaheim.
As the third began, the news came out that Gibby was out with a lower body injury. Shocking. Early in the going, Kesler put a shot on goal and a fat rebound came to Cogs but Pekka Rinne stopped the rubber again. However, amidst the chaos it was clear that Rinne played the puck outside of the trapezoid. Not seen and certainly not called. That made me pretty mad but life goes on. It didn’t take long for Nashville to push back. It resulted in Roman Josi shooting the puck over the net, but the rubber came back off the glass and had to be fought off by Bernier. Weird bounce.
The Ducks fourth line continued its strong board play as the puck squirted out to Montour who blasted the biscuit into Rinne. Later on, Mattias Ekholm shot a puck into traffic and the rebound created chaos with Kevin Bieksa clearing out Neal. Back in the Predators zone, Getzy shot a puck off the face-off but Pekka was ready.
Then the top line nearly grabbed the lead for Anaheim as the puck tumbled around bodies in front of the crease. Ekholm made a great play by keeping the puck away from Ritchie and play would go down the ice. The Ducks were so close. Filip Forsberg took a shot within the circle, Bernier made the save as Pontus Aberg hustled to the sloppy rebound and scored. Bieksa was beat to the puck, and Bernier had poor rebound control. Not ideal. 2-1 Predators. From nearly taking the lead to that. Hurts.
Nashville then clogged up the neutral zone and forced a tough forecheck on the Ducks. Anaheim could not skate the puck in, Nashville stepped up hard on the blue line and forced the Ducks to dump it in. But of course Pekka Rinne is the best in the business at playing the biscuit, so Anaheim had no offense for what seemed the rest of the game. Eventually Nashville iced after a decent shift for Anaheim, Laviolette used his timeout. The Ducks would use theirs soon after. With Bernier to the bench, the Ducks finally got possession. In incredibly terrible luck, Silfy broke his stick trying to pass the puck. Perry would fail to get a puck to the blue line and Watson scored down the length of the ice. 3-1 predators.
Subban found the box and a line scrum ensued after. Fiddler had words for Kesler and Corey Perry. Ritchie dropped his mitts and threw a few punches at Ekholm before the refs broke them up. The Ducks frustrations was prevalent. In what was an impressive game by Nashville, the Ducks find themselves with their backs against the wall.
It’s do or die Monday night back in Smashville.