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game recap

Predators defeat Ducks in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

Pekka Rinne makes 32 saves, Pontus Aberg scores winning goal in third period

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The Nashville Predators are one win from their first Stanley Cup Final after a 3-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Saturday.

The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 at Nashville on Monday.

"We all know it's nothing but Game 6 for us," said Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, who made 32 saves. "If we win, we're in the [Cup Final]. If we lose, we come back here, and we don't want to do that."

 

[WATCH: All Predators vs. Ducks highlights | RELATED: Complete Nashville vs. Anaheim series coverage]

 

Rookie Pontus Aberg scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal at 11:01 of the third period to give Nashville a 2-1 lead, and Austin Watson scored into an empty net with 47.2 seconds left to make it 3-1.

Aberg was moved up to the top line with Filip Forsberg and Colton Sissons because Nashville's top two centers, Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher, did not play after each sustained an injury in Game 4. Johansen will miss the rest of the postseason following emergency surgery on his left thigh.

"We had guys show up and play extremely hard today and hard fought," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "This is a tough building to play in against a good team, a veteran team, and we're able to walk away with a win."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Rinne stones Kesler, Cogliano in 3rd

Anaheim goalie John Gibson sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and was replaced to begin the second by Jonathan Bernier, who made 16 saves on 18 shots.

Gibson said he would play in Game 6, according to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

"That's maybe adrenaline, or whatnot, flowing tonight," Carlyle said. "We'll do an assessment tomorrow and we'll do an assessment once we get to Nashville on Monday morning and see where that takes us."

The Ducks scored first for a third straight game, but the Predators have outscored them 6-0 in the third period of those games.

"We didn't move our feet, we didn't compete the way I like our group to do," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We've got to do better."

Chris Wagner gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead at 12:46 of the second period when he beat Rinne on the rebound of a shot by defenseman Brandon Montour.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Wagner buries Montour's rebound

Nashville went on the power play at 17:30 of the second after Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson was called for cross-checking Forsberg, and Colin Wilson scored with 41 seconds left in the period to tie the game 1-1.

The Ducks played without injured forward Rickard Rakell (lower body), whose 33 regular-season goals led Anaheim. He is day to day.

Nashville center Frederick Gaudreau was in the lineup for the first time in the playoffs, and forward Miikka Salomaki played his first game of the series.

The Ducks were 0-for-4 on the power play, and the Predators were 1-for-2. Nashville had killed two Anaheim power plays 8:26 into the game, and the Ducks killed off the first for the Predators later in the first period.

 
Goal of the game

Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm beat Manson to the puck along the left-wing boards in the Anaheim zone, pulled up and centered it to Forsberg. Bernier stopped Forsberg's shot, but Aberg dove in and swiped the rebound into the net.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Aberg lays out to net go-ahead goal

 
Save of the game

Rinne stopped Montour's slap shot from the top of the right hash marks at 8:05 of the third period.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Rinne denies Montour's point-blank shot

 
Highlight of the game

As Nashville's second power play of the game was winding down, defenseman P.K. Subban's shot from the point hit traffic and ended up in front of the net, where Wilson backhanded it past Bernier.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Wilson chips in PPG off the post

 
Unsung performance of the game

In his NHL playoff debut, Gaudreau won 10 of 14 faceoffs (71.4 percent) against the top faceoff team in the League during the regular season. It was his first NHL game since Jan. 8. "This was his first playoff game and he played like he's been in the League for 10 years," Forsberg said.

 

They said it

"We knew we were in a tough spot with the guys that were not with us, and we knew we had a tough opponent in front of us, and our guys threw in a gutsy save for us today." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette on playing without centers Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher

 

"We'll flush this, we'll get ourselves ready, we'll re-energize our group, and we'll look forward to playing a better game than we played tonight." -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle

 

Need to know

The team that wins Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-7 series is 198-54 in NHL history, including 5-0 this season. ... Wilson's goal was the 13th of his career in the NHL playoffs, moving him into a five-way tie for most in Predators history (Forsberg, James Neal, Shea Weber, David Legwand). ... Forsberg has four goals and two assists in a six-game point streak. ... Ekholm has six assists in the past six games. ... Rinne is 11-4 in the postseason with a 1.62 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. ... Fisher (undisclosed) is day to day. ... Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg had an assist on Wagner's goal and has 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 16 playoff games.

 

What's next

Game 6 of Western Conference Final at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)

 

Video: Predators defeat Ducks in Game 5, go up 3-2 in WCF

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