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game recap

Predators hand Ducks fourth straight Game 7 loss

Rinne makes 36 saves, Nashville will play San Jose in second round

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks were on the wrong side of their own repeating history at Honda Center on Wednesday. The Nashville Predators made their own.

The Predators handed the Ducks their fourth straight Game 7 loss, all at home, winning 2-1 to take their Western Conference First Round series.

Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad scored first-period goals, and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves for the Predators, who were playing the first Game 7 in franchise history. Nashville won a playoff series for the first time since 2012, when the Predators eliminated the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

"It's a big step," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I feel that if you can't take this one step, you can't take any more steps. That makes it a really big win for our guys and for our team. When you're faced with these situations, you're either going home or going on and playing hockey to continue to fight for the Cup. It was a big night."

Nashville will visit the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

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

The Ducks fell to 2-6 all-time in Game 7s and are 1-4 at Honda Center. They lost Game 7 at home to the Red Wings in 2013, the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and the Chicago Blackhawks last year. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is 1-7 in Game 7s with the Ducks and Washington Capitals.

But the Ducks felt this loss stung more than the first three.

"With the way the score was, and the way we were pushing, I'd say yes," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Especially with how hard we had to push from November on just to get to where we were. We did everything the hard way. We thought, in the third period, we still believed we were going to tie it up. It just wasn't meant to be."

Despite the two early goals by Nashville, Anaheim controlled play for most of the game. The Ducks outshot the Predators 28-10 in the final two periods and had odd bounces and open looks that will haunt them through the summer.

"I thought we dominated them," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "I didn't think they had any good looks, and we hit a couple posts. We had some power plays. This was probably one of our best games of the series, but it wasn't meant to be. I don't know what it is. I can't explain it. We can't get a bounce, it seems, to start off these games, and they end up killing us."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Gaustad redirects shot to extend lead

Ryan Kesler cut Nashville's lead to 2-1 at 1:45 of the third period when he one-timed a feed by Jakob Silfverberg from the low slot past Rinne for a power-play goal. Anaheim outshot the Predators 15-4 in the third period; with 7:19 left, defenseman Hampus Lindholm's shot skipped off Rinne and hit the crossbar, but Nashville defenseman Roman Josi managed to clear the loose puck out of the crease.

Rinne also made two quick saves on Corey Perry with 1:15 remaining.

"He was really good," Laviolette said of Rinne. "If you think that you need four wins to get out, and if you think about the four wins, you could consider him one of the best players on the ice. He was outstanding. He looked solid to me. He looked from the start tonight that he was right on top of his game."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Kesler nets gorgeous tac-tac-toe PPG

Wilson gave Nashville a 1-0 lead 6:19 into the first period when his backhand shot off a broken play went off the crossbar and over the shoulder of goaltender Frederik Andersen. It was Wilson's second goal and fifth point of the series.

"Those flipped-up pucks are hard to control for the defensemen," Wilson said. [Mike Fisher] was going and pushing them back. I was fortunate for it to come up on my stick."

Gaustad made it 2-0 at 15:53 when he redirected Shea Weber's wrist shot from the right point past Andersen. The goal stood after a video review determined that Gaustad's stick was not over the crossbar.

The Ducks have been outscored 9-1 in the first period in their past four Game 7s.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Rinne makes stop, puck hits post in 3rd

Jamie McGinn had the best chance for Anaheim in the second period, but his shot ticked the crossbar and went over a wide-open net. It was one of several quality chances for Anaheim in the second period, when the Ducks outshot Nashville 13-6 but couldn't capitalize.

"They played most of the 40 minutes in our end, so we could have done a better job with that," Josi said. "But in the end, we played great defensively when it counted."

Andersen made 18 saves for Anaheim, which made its earliest playoff exit since 2013.

"It's certainly not fun, and it's not the title you want to have in this league," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "I'm trying not to look at it big-picture so much. Those years are behind us. We were focused on this year with a great group of guys. I just feel for them right now."

Video: Rinne shines in Game 7, Preds advance to second round

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