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More Game 7 heartbreak for Ducks

Anaheim dominates Nashville but loses fourth straight deciding game at home

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks ran out of escape routes.

As a result, they were run out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs far earlier than they anticipated.

Anaheim couldn't find a way back from an early deficit in Game 7 and lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators at Honda Center on Wednesday.

The Predators advance; they begin the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

The Ducks are done; after wiggling out of trouble all season long and proving the doubters wrong, their season is over. Their summer starts Thursday.

Forgotten in the wake of their playoff ouster is a season that saw them win one of their first 10 games, but still rally to win the Pacific Division title in the final weekend of the season. Forgotten is the fact that they erased a 2-0 deficit in this series by reeling off three straight wins.

"We were playing catch-up the whole game, the whole series, the whole year," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "It came back to bite us in the end."

Instead of another comeback, another Game 7 heartbreak is what will be remembered as the Ducks' 2015-16 legacy. Anaheim has been knocked out of the postseason with a Game 7 loss in each of the past four seasons, each time at Honda Center.

"It's tough; it's hard to swallow right now," forward Corey Perry said.

The previous two Game 7 losses, against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final last season and to the Los Angeles Kings in the second round in 2014, were routs, the final result known well before the final horn. This time, the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds. Nashville defenseman Roman Josi blocked a shot with four seconds remaining, snuffing out the final attempt by an Anaheim team that outshot the Predators 28-10 during the final 40 minutes. During that period, the shots attempts were 46-14 in the favor of the home team.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Andersen denies Johansen in the 3rd

"It was the best two periods we played in the series," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough."

Boudreau has presided over each of the four Game 7 losses; overall, he's 1-7 in Game 7s with the Ducks and Washington Capitals.

The Ducks were undone by small mistakes on Wednesday. They followed their game plan; they were the stronger team in the first five minutes, they were winning the individual battles; they didn't let the moment become too big for them.

Then Nashville left wing Colin Wilson pounced on a defensive-zone turnover and scored on a nifty backhand at 6:19 of the first period.

At 15:53, fourth-line center Paul Gaustad tipped a slap shot by Shea Weber past Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Gaustad redirects shot to extend lead

"I saw the shot," Andersen said. "[Gaustad] had a great tip. Somehow it just found its way through my legs. Great tip."

The Ducks were rocked, but they fought back, a trait that even they admit was in short supply in their past two Game 7 experiences.

In the end, that may have made this loss even more painful. They were so close; had showed so much character in fighting back. Yet they found themselves facing the same painful result

"With the way the score was and the way we were pushing, I would say yes," Boudreau said when asked if the loss Wednesday was the most painful of the four Game 7 defeats. "Especially with the way we were pushing from November on. We did everything the hard way and we still believed in the third period that we were going to tie it up. It just wasn't to be."

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