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Ducks hope Game 7 misery is history

Recapping Anaheim's past three postseason finishes

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Every year the Anaheim Ducks say it's going to be different. There are different players and a different team; a different opponent and different circumstances.

But here they are again in the same situation: facing a Game 7 at home for the fourth straight year, having lost the previous three.

The Ducks will try to erase those bad memories Wednesday when they host the Nashville Predators in their Western Conference First Round series (10:p.m. ET: NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-W, FS-TN). Yet again, the Ducks are promising that this time around, things are different.

"I'm not thinking of any of those years," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "Different players; I think we have some older guys now that have been in situations that we can use. And I think we've been through adversity this year. We've been through some tough times and battled back and I think we can use that to our advantage as well."

Cogliano is one of four Ducks who have played in all three of those losses (Cam Fowler, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are the others). Here's a brief history of Anaheim's past three Game 7s:

2013 First Round: Detroit Red Wings 3, Ducks 2

There was hope for the Ducks when Emerson Etem, their top prospect, scored his third goal of the series to tie the game 1-1 late in the first period. But the Red Wings stormed back when Justin Abdelkader powered past defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray for a breakaway goal less than three minutes later that made it 2-1. With the Red Wings ahead 3-1 in the third period, Beauchemin scored a power-play goal with 3:17 left, but the Ducks didn't come close to tying the game.

The loss ended Bruce Boudreau's first full season as Ducks coach, and though the outcome was disappointing, Anaheim was considered a team on the rise.

2014 Second Round: Los Angeles Kings 6, Ducks 2

Boudreau went with 20-year-old rookie John Gibson as his goalie in Game 7 instead of veteran Jonas Hiller. Gibson had made six NHL starts, three in the regular season (3-0-0) and three in the postseason (2-1). But ultimately, the moment proved to be too big for him. Gibson gave up four goals in a little more than one period, and Hiller gave up another in the second. Anaheim trailed 5-1 to start the third.

"I didn't want to pull him at all," Boudreau said of Gibson after the game. "In a normal situation, we probably would have pulled the goalie after the third goal in the first period but we didn't want to pull John."

It was Perry's birthday and Teemu Selanne's final game in the NHL. The Kings advanced to the play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

2015 Western Conference Final: Blackhawks 5, Ducks 3

The Ducks escaped with a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 5 in a less-than-solid performance, and followed it up with another shaky showing in Game 6, when they failed to eliminate the eventual Stanley Cup winners in Chicago and lost 5-2.

The tension was thick at Honda Center in Game 7 as the Ducks pressured the Blackhawks in a furious opening stretch. But when Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored two first-period goals for a 2-0 lead, the Ducks were deflated. The Ducks drastically changed their lines, lost puck battles and second-guessed hits. It was, by all accounts, a disaster for Anaheim.

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"Everything is over," forward Ryan Kesler said afterward. "It's the start of summer now and we're going to have to get over this and get ready for next year because I'll tell you right now, this group is not done. We have unfinished business."

Which brings us to the present, with the Ducks trying to finish at least some of that business. This time, they say, it really is different because, finally, they aren't playing to lose.

"Safe is going to get you nowhere," Cogliano said. "We need to execute our game plan and guys need to individually be prepared to compete and outcompete their matchup and see where it leaves us at the end of the night. I know that coming out and hoping for something or waiting for something to happen, you lose. And I think a lot of guys have understood that over the last couple years."

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