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Ducks unconcerned with past, focus on Game 6

Anaheim visits Nashville, not focusing on failing to close out series in each of past three seasons

by Shawn P. Roarke NHL.com Director of Editorial / @sroarke_nhl

ANAHEIM -- When the Anaheim Ducks prepare for Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports, FS-TN, FS-W), they face a question of how to approach the game mentally holding a 3-2 series lead.

Do they treat it as a must-win game and the belief that it's the final chance to knock the Predators out of the best-of-7 series or do they take solace in the fact that there is the safety net of a Game 7, if necessary?

"There's a fine line between stressing that you have to close it out in Game 6 and then there is still a Game 7," coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday at Honda Center before his team boarded a plane for Nashville. "If we don't happen to succeed, you don't want to think it is over after Game 6, you know."

The approach to Game 6 is a more pressing to the Ducks because recent history has not been kind when they have been in this position.

Anaheim held a 3-2 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Western Conference Final, but lost the next two games, and the Blackhawks went on to the win the Stanley Cup. In 2014, the Ducks had the Los Angeles Kings on the verge of elimination heading into Game 6. They lost twice and the Kings went on to win the Cup. In 2013, the Red Wings were on the verge of elimination after five first-round games but sent the top-seeded Ducks home.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Perron banks it off Josi and in

"I bet you there are 10 different guys [here] than there were in '14," Boudreau said. "Why do they need to be a part of that?"

There are 13 players remaining from the team that lost in the playoffs to Chicago last season. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler have been around for all three meltdowns.

Boudreau would like to see a win in Game 6 on if for no other reason than to avoid another Game 7 and the questions that will accompany that.

Boudreau is the only coach in NHL history to lose six Game 7s in his career, and is the only coach to lose Game 7 at home in three consecutive seasons. His career record in Game 7s is 1-6.

"I think experience is the best teacher," Boudreau said. "What didn't work one time, you try something different until you find a formula that is a pretty good formula and let's keep it going this way."

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa is in his first season with the Ducks, but knows the impetus remains to put away the Predators as quickly as possible.

 Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Garbutt banks it off Rinne and in

"I think we are a better team when we have that urgency," Bieksa said. "I think we came out in Games 1 and 2 and because the regular season went so well in the second half, we kind of took a breath of air and sat back a little bit and relaxed.

"We come out in Game 3 and we know we have to win that game. Same thing in Game 4, we know we have to win. This team has to have that urgency to be successful."

The Ducks are not intimidated about going to Nashville to get a win. Anaheim won each game at Bridgestone Arena this series -- 3-0 in Game 3 and 4-1 in Game 4. The Ducks were also 21-15-5 on the road during the regular season.

"We do want to close it out," said left wing David Perron, who was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 16. "I think for us, our best games were in Nashville so we are looking forward to getting there. For us, I don't think [Game 5] was the best one we played in the series so far. We need to keep improving and make sure that we play within our structure and keep doing the right things."

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