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5 Reasons Predators advanced

Wilson's scoring, strong road play, penalty kill key elements in Nashville's series win

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- It took all the Nashville Predators had to advance to the Western Conference Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time. 

The Predators pushed their first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks to seven games and won despite trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

Nashville had never played a Game 7; forward Mike Ribeiro was the only player on the roster who had won a Game 7 in the NHL.

Here are five reasons the Predators advanced to the second round:

1. Road dominance: The Predators set the tone of the series from the start, winning the first two games at Honda Center to go up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time. Predators forward James Neal scored 35 seconds into Game 1, and they looked comfortable playing on the road from that moment on. 

The Predators won three games at Honda Center and believed they had a good effort in their loss there in Game 5. Defense was a key part of their road wins; they allowed five goals in their three wins in Anaheim.

"They had some chances and a lot of shots, but I still felt that we defended really hard," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "We didn't give them second chances. I was able to see most of the pucks." 

2. Wilson's awakening: The Predators had seen forward Colin Wilson succeed offensively before in the playoffs but had little reason to believe he would heading into the first round. 

Wilson had six goals and 24 points in the regular season but two goals and three assists in the first round to tie defenseman Shea Weber for the Predators lead in points.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Wilson makes slick move to provide lead

Wilson was tenacious on the forecheck, creating turnovers that led to offensive opportunities. 

"I think we had talked about it being a fresh start for him," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Any time you end the regular season and start the playoffs, it's a new season. You've got to make your way. If you remember back then, I had said that he was playing well at the end of the season. His line [with Mike Fisher and Viktor Arvidsson] really seemed to start to form some chemistry in a line that we could count on and started to produce some points."

3. Rinne's recovery: Rinne's numbers were shaky through the first five games of the series, but he raised his level in the final two games. 

Rinne finished the series with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. He made 36 saves in his first Game 7 at any level. He said he relied on his experience in international games to help him. 

"I think that experience helps a little bit, just playing kind of the same type of games before," Rinne said. "Just sticking with the poise."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Rinne snatches Fowler's slap shot

4. Holding off Corey Perry: The Predators held Ducks forward Corey Perry to no goals and four assists in seven games. He was ninth in the League during the regular season with 34 goals. 

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau split Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf for the majority of the series before the final two periods of Game 7. Perry had 21 shots on goal and a minus-7 rating. 

5. Penalty kill: The Ducks had the top power play in the NHL during the regular season but the Predators were able to limit their effectiveness. 

Nashville went 21-for-25 on the penalty kill, including some timely kills at big moments. They were consistently able to get in the shooting lanes and block shots, and Rinne was their best penalty killer.

The Predators went 1-for-26 on the power play, but their strong penalty kill allowed them to stay close in the special-teams battle.

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