WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL OPENS IN ANAHEIM
The Western Conference Final opens tonight at Honda Center in Anaheim (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) when the Pacific Division-champion Ducks host the Predators, who qualified for the postseason as the second wild card from the West. The Predators defeated the Ducks in seven games in the 2016 Western Conference First Round and also won their only other playoff meeting, in six games in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals.
* The Ducks are in the Western Conference Final for the second time in three years and fifth time ever (also 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2015). They are aiming to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time on the 10-year anniversary of the club's only Stanley Cup triumph, in 2007.
* The Predators, who are 8-2 during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have won nine consecutive postseason games at home dating to Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round against the Ducks (5-0 in 2017), are appearing in the conference finals for the first time.
Team Leaders, Goals:
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA): 8
Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis (NSH): 4
Team Leaders, Assists:
Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry (ANA): 7
Ryan Johansen (NSH): 7
Team Leaders, Points:
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA): 8-7-15 in 11 GP
Ryan Ellis (NSH): 4-5-9 in 10 GP
Ryan Johansen (NSH): 2-7-9 in 10 GP
Projected Starting Goaltenders:
John Gibson (ANA): 7-3, 2.80 GAA, .908 SV%
Pekka Rinne (NSH): 8-2, 1.37 GAA, .951 SV%, 2 SO
Video: Previewing the series between the Ducks and Preds
CLOSE GAMES, COMEBACKS AND OT HIGHLIGHT OPENING TWO ROUNDS
The first two rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs featured a thrilling mix of close games, comebacks and overtime heroics, with four teams left standing: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference and the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference.
Of the 68 games contested thus far in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs:
* Forty-two (61.8 percent) have been decided by one goal, while another eight have been decided by two goals following an empty-net goal (combined, 73.5 percent).
* Twenty-seven (39.7 percent) have seen the winning team overcome a deficit of at least one goal, including 13 that have overcome multigoal deficits.
* Thirteen (19.1 percent) have featured a team overcoming a third-period deficit of any margin to win, including five that trailed by multiple goals in the third period.
* Four of the five multigoal, third-period comeback wins were orchestrated by teams still playing in the conference finals. The Ducks did it twice, the Predators and Senators once each.
* Twenty-three (33.8 percent) have required overtime, five shy of matching the NHL record for most in a single playoff year, 28 in 85 games in 1993.
* Ten tying goals have been scored in the final five minutes of the third period, including seven in the last two minutes and three in the final 60 seconds.
* Six go-ahead goals have been scored in the final five minutes of the third period.
NHL ANNOUNCES OFFICIALS FOR CONFERENCE FINALS
The NHL announced the officials for the 2017 conference finals:
Jean Hebert, Wes McCauley, Brad Meier, Dan O'Halloran, Dan O'Rourke, Kevin Pollock, Chris Rooney, Kelly Sutherland
Derek Amell, Scott Cherrey, Shane Heyer, Brad Kovachik, Matt MacPherson, Brian Murphy, Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot
Francis Charron (Referee), Steve Miller (Linesman)
ICYMI: Dates, starting times and national television coverage for all games during the conference finals. … The Buffalo Sabres announced the hiring of Jason Botterill as general manager. … The Chicago Blackhawks signed forward Richard Panik to a two-year contract.