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Instant analysis: Predators vs. Ducks, Game 6

Rinne, Nashville limit Anaheim's chances, force Game 7

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of their Western Conference First Round series Monday at Bridgestone Arena 3-1, tying the best-of-7 series 3-3.

Mattias Ekholm and James Neal scored in the second period for Nashville. Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal late in the period for Anaheim, but the Predators shut out the Ducks in the third. Nashville captain Shea Weber scored an empty-netter with 10 seconds remaining with the fans cheering and waving their gold rally towels.

What we learned: The Predators are resilient. They took a 2-0 lead in the series, then lost three straight games by a combined 12-3 score. But they felt they played relatively well in Game 5 despite the 5-2 loss, and played patient, poised hockey in Game 6.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Neal finishes two-on-one

What this means for the Ducks: The Ducks are in danger of blowing a 3-2 lead and losing a series for the fourth straight year. They did it against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round three years ago, the Los Angeles Kings in the second round two years ago and the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final last year. Each time, they lost Game 7 at home. In their last seven Game 6 and Game 7 situations, they are 0-7.

What this means for the Predators: Nashville will experience its first Game 7 since the franchise entered the NHL in 1998-99. The Predators also have a chance to come back from a 3-2 deficit and win a series for the first time. They can advance to the second round for the third time.

Key moment: In the second period, Ducks right wing Corey Perry made a nifty toe drag to evade a defender and shot wide. The puck rimmed around the boards, and Predators center Ryan Johansen picked it up. Not only did he have a 2-on-1 with Neal against Ducks defenseman Simon Despres, he had it at a rare time when he wasn't being hounded by Ducks shutdown center Ryan Kesler. He passed right to left, and Neal scored, giving the Predators a 2-0 lead. That turned out to be the winning goal.

Unsung player of the game: Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne didn't get the shutout, but he allowed one goal after allowing 11 over the previous three games and entering with an .889 save percentage in the series. Among his 26 saves: With 6:40 to go, he stoned Perry, who hasn't scored in this series. Rinne said he had to be better, and he was.

What's next: Game 7 is Wednesday at Honda Center in Anaheim. The Ducks' Bruce Boudreau is the only coach in NHL history to lose in a Game 7 six times in his career, and is the only coach to lose a Game 7 at home in three consecutive seasons. His career record in Game 7 is 1-6.

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