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Ducks Head to Nashville Facing a Familiar Closeout Opportunity in Game 6

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Adam Brady
AnaheimDucks.com

About 12 hours since Game 5, after the jubilation of that pivotal victory has faded, the Ducks got ready to head back to Nashville knowing they’ve been in this position before.

“We just have to take game after game, one by one, and tomorrow is the game we want to win,” says Lindholm. “All that stuff that happened before, I don’t think it’s on anybody’s mind. It’s in the past. We’ve been through some adversity this year, and I think we’re much stronger and really know what to do in these kinds of situations.”

Each of the last three postseasons, Anaheim has played its way into a chance to close out a series in Game 6 on the road, only to lose that game as well as Game 7 at Honda Center. In 2013 it came in the opening round vs. Detroit, in 2014 it was the Second Round vs. LA and last year it happened again in the Western Conference Final vs. Chicago. (It shouldn't be forgotten that also in 2014, the Ducks faced a chance to extinguish a First Round series with the Stars in a Game 6 in Dallas and did so with a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory.)

This time around, the Ducks can slam the door on their First Round series with the Predators in Game 6 in Nashville, a win that would be a fourth straight for an Anaheim team that dropped the first two games at home. And while certainly the Ducks haven’t forgotten about what’s happened the past few seasons, they insist it won’t be on their minds as they approach Monday night’s battle at Bridgestone Arena.

“That’s history for me,” said Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who was part of those Ducks teams the past two seasons. “This is a new year, a new group and it doesn’t really bother me what happened another year.”

The Ducks were at Honda Center this morning for an optional practice before jetting off to Nashville for a Game 6 that Lindholm says is their singular focus right now, not a fallback Game 7 that would come two nights later in Anaheim.

“We just have to take game after game, one by one, and tomorrow is the game we want to win,” says Lindholm, who is tied for the team lead in postseason plus-minus at +6. “All that stuff that happened before, I don’t think it’s on anybody’s mind. It’s in the past. We’ve been through some adversity this year, and I think we’re much stronger and really know what to do in these kinds of situations.”

“There has to be a sense, of urgency, just like we had when we were down 0-2,” Thompson said. “The fourth game is always the hardest to win no matter what, and they’re gonna be a desperate team. When you have a chance to close out a series in six games, and you’re up, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau says of past history, “I’m not bringing it up,” pointing out that there are a number of players on this roster that weren’t here for those other postseasons.

Yet while he’d like to seal the series out tomorrow night, “There is a fine line between stressing that you have to close it out in Game 6 and then [knowing] there’s still a Game 7. If we don’t happen to succeed, no one will think it’s over after Game 6. I’m sure we’ll talk about how we’d like to close it out though.”

While the score may indicate otherwise, the Ducks say they didn’t play their best hockey in last night’s 5-2 victory over the Predators in Game 5. “It wasn’t maybe our best game, but we found a way to win, which this time of year is crucial,” Lindholm said “It was good to get away with a W, but we have to be much better tomorrow, and all the guys know that.”

Added forward Nate Thompson, “We have to have a better start, and we have to play a much better game than we did last night. I thought there were definitely a lot of areas where we could be better. If it wasn’t for Freddie in a couple instances, the game could have been a lot different.”

Indeed, goalie Frederik Andersen held strong yet again, especially when he was leaned on heavily during stretches of last night’s game. In three starts this series, he’s 3-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .966 save percentage.

He gave up just one goal total in Ducks wins in Game 3 and 4 in Nashville, and he’ll be back in net tomorrow night as Anaheim tries to steal another one in a hostile environment.

“There has to be a sense, of urgency, just like we had when we were down 0-2,” Thompson said. “The fourth game is always the hardest to win no matter what, and they’re gonna be a desperate team.

"When you have a chance to close out a series in six games, and you’re up, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity. You’re playing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s exciting, and there should be desperation no matter what.”

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