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5 Reasons: Why Ducks were eliminated

Third-period struggles, key injuries major causes of loss to Predators in Western Conference Final

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

The Anaheim Ducks overcame their recent Game 7 woes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they still haven't found a way past the Nashville Predators.

The Ducks won Game 7 in the Western Conference Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center after losing in Game 7 at home in each of the previous four years. But they lost in six games to the Predators in the best-of-7 conference final to fall to 0-3 all-time against Nashville in the postseason.

Here are 5 reasons the Ducks were eliminated:

 

1. THIRD-PERIOD PROBLEMS

The Ducks scored first and led the rest of the way once in their 10 playoff victories, during Game 4 of their first-round sweep of the Calgary Flames.

Anaheim scored first in its first three losses to the Predators, rallied from two goals down in one of its two victories and gave up a two-goal lead in its other win. The Ducks fell behind by two goals twice in Game 6, rallied to tie the game 3-3, but gave up the final three goals in a 6-3 loss.

The Ducks were the toughest team to score against in the third period during the regular season (55 goals), but allowed 10 third-period goals in the final four games against Nashville.

"It's a very frustrating thing for a group, when we go out and we've worked as hard as we did all year," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "We didn't get the results we needed."

 

[RELATED: 5 Reasons Predators advanced | Complete series coverage

 

2. LOSS OF GETZLAF'S LINEMATES

Getzlaf was one of the most productive players through the first three weeks of the postseason. He had 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his the first nine games but was held to no goals and four assists in the final eight.

One problem was that Anaheim's captain and No. 1 center began the playoffs with 30-goal scorers Patrick Eaves and Rickard Rakell on his wings. However, Eaves missed the final 10 games and Rakell the final two, each with a lower-body injury.

Forward Nick Ritchie successfully moved to the top line with Getzlaf on several occasions, but he departed Game 6 against Nashville in the first period after receiving a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson.

Before the second period was over in Game 6, Getzlaf was getting double-shifted with Ondrej Kase and Corey Perry, and Jared Boll and Nic Kerdiles. Those four combined for 24 goals in the regular season.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Carlyle talks series-ending Game 6 loss

 

3. JOHN GIBSON WORE DOWN

Ducks goaltender John Gibson had never played in more than 10 consecutive games heading into the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He missed 17 of Anaheim's final 21 regular-season games with a lower-body injury.

But the Ducks started Gibson in their first 16 playoff games before a hamstring injury forced him out after the first period of Game 5 against the Predators. Jonathan Bernier did a stellar job filling in for Gibson late in the regular season, but he gave up six goals on 34 shots during the final five periods of the series for a save percentage of .824.

"If you look at it, we scored three goals," coach Randy Carlyle said of the 6-3 loss that ended Anaheim's season. "We should win the hockey game. Simple as that. Playoff hockey. If you score three goals in a game, you should give yourself a pretty good chance for success."

 

4. LITTLE OFFENSE FROM RYAN KESLER, ANDREW COGLIANO

For a long stretch during the regular season, the shutdown line of center Ryan Kesler between wings Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano also was the most productive group on the offensive end for Anaheim.

But only Silfverberg carried that over to the playoffs. His nine goals remain tied for the NHL playoff lead with forward Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his 14 points were second on the Ducks behind Getzlaf.

Kesler was second on Anaheim with 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) during the regular season, but he was sixth in the playoffs with eight points (one goal, seven assists). Cogliano had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) during the regular season but three (one goal, two assists) in the postseason.

Each combined for one assist against the Predators and missed several prime opportunities to finish scoring plays.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Rinne kicks away Kesler's one-timer

 

5. DUMP-INS AGAINST PEKKA RINNE

The Ducks knew they needed to be creative on their dump-ins. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is among the best in the League at trapping pucks behind his net, passing to his defensemen and preventing opponents from establishing a forecheck.

The best way to counter is to dump the puck into the corner, but the Predators did a good job of at clogging the middle of the neutral zone and forcing the Ducks to dump from the outside; that usually kept the puck sliding along the rim and onto the waiting stick of Rinne.

"They're a structured team," Perry said. "They don't stray away from that, and it works."

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