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5 Keys: Ducks at Predators, Game 6

John Gibson could start in goal for Anaheim; Nashville hoping for better start than previous home game

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

DUCKS at PREDATORS

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Predators lead best-of-7 series 3-2

 

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators can advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time with a win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on Monday.

The Predators are 6-1 at home during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their only loss at Bridgestone Arena was a 3-2 overtime defeat against the Ducks in Game 4 on Thursday.

Anaheim is 5-2 on the road during the playoffs.

Neither team has lost back-to-back games so far during the series.

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:

 

1. John Gibson's availability

Ducks goaltender John Gibson left Game 5 after the first period because of a lower-body injury and did not return. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier, who made 16 saves on 18 shots in the Ducks' 3-1 loss.

Gibson participated in the Ducks' morning skate Monday and was the first goaltender off of the ice, indicating that he could start. If he's able to play, the Predators likely will try to test his movement.

"When they skate, usually that lends you to believe there's a great opportunity for him to play, but I haven't talked to him," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of Gibson. "We'll wait until he is off the ice and has a conversation with the training staff, and then we'll make a decision based upon that."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Gibson extends pad to rob Forsberg

 

2. Resilient Ducks

The Ducks have been a resilient team so far in the playoffs, whether it has been when behind in games or trailing in a series.

They lost the first two games of the Western Conference Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers and won in seven games, and have tied the conference final twice before when trailing.

"The last three months we've been responding to things properly and I expect nothing else out of our group tonight," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "But they're not going to let us just come in here and take it so we're going to have to go out and work hard and do the things that we do well."

 

3. Predators looking for stronger start 

The Predators were not happy with the first period of Game 4, their most recent game at Bridgestone Arena. The Ducks took a 1-0 lead and held the Predators to two shots on goal.

Nashville knows it will have to have a quicker start to Game 6.

"We weren't good," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Our guys knew it. I don't think that Game 4 leads to Game 6. I don't think that Game 1 led to Game 3. Every game is its own page in a book. The one thing you can do is you can learn along the way, and we just weren't very sharp [in Game 4]. We were on our heels and we played a team that was on their toes and basically that's the difference."

Video: J.P. Morosi on the Predators historical opportunity 

 

4. War of attrition 

Both teams are dealing with injuries that could affect their offense.

The Predators played Game 5 without centers Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher and could be in the same situation in Game 6. Johansen will miss the remainder of the playoffs after surgery Thursday on his left thigh for acute compartment syndrome, and Fisher did not participate in the morning skate Monday. He has an undisclosed injury.

The Ducks were without forward Rickard Rakell in Game 5 because of a lower-body injury, and he will not play in Game 6. Forward Patrick Eaves has missed the past nine games because of a lower-body injury.

 

5. Lock-down defense

Perhaps the biggest strength of the Predators is their ability to defend, which was on full display in the third period of Game 5.

They allowed three shots on goal in the final 8:59 of the third period after forward Pontus Aberg's goal gave them a 2-1 lead, and goaltender Pekka Rinne made 32 saves in the game.

"He was great [in Game 5]," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said of Rinne. "He made some unbelievable saves. He's been great all playoffs. The team has so much confidence in him. It's awesome playing in front of him, and it's been unbelievable."

 

Ducks projected lineup

Nick Ritchie -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Chris Wagner -- Nate Thompson -- Ondrej Kase

Nicolas Kerdiles -- Antoine Vermette -- Jared Boll

Cam Fowler -- Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm -- Brandon Montour

Kevin Bieksa -- Josh Manson

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Sam Carrick, Korbinian Holzer, Clayton Stoner

Injured: Rickard Rakell (lower body), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Logan Shaw (lower body)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Colton Sissons -- Pontus Aberg

Viktor Arvidsson -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Colin Wilson -- Frederick Gaudreau -- Austin Watson

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Miikka Salomaki

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Vladislav Kamenev, Marek Mazanec, PA Parenteau, Petter Granberg

Injured: Ryan Johansen (acute compartment syndrome), Mike Fisher (undisclosed), Kevin Fiala (fractured left femur), Craig Smith (undisclosed)

 

Status report

The Ducks held an optional morning skate. … Smith participated in the morning skate for the Predators and was a full participant in drills. He has missed the first five games of the series.

 

Who's hot

Silfverberg has three points (two goals, one assist) in the series. … Forsberg has four goals in the series and has a six-game point streak (four goals, two assists).

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