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game recap

Rinne, Predators defeat Ducks to stay alive

Goalie makes 26 saves to help force Game 7 in Anaheim on Wednesday

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in Game 6 of their Western Conference First Round series at Bridgestone Arena on Monday to force the first Game 7 in their history.

Mattias Ekholm, James Neal and Shea Weber scored for Nashville, which got 26 saves from Pekka Rinne.

"You could tell with the way we played, especially playing at home, it was nice to get that win," Rinne said. "I have to say about these fans, they're unbelievable. It was so much fun and a great atmosphere, and thank you, guys. It was a lot of fun and a great win. I'm just really excited about the Game 7."

The best-of-7 series is tied 3-3. Game 7 will be at Honda Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

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

"It's awesome. Looking forward to it," Weber said. "You grow up with playing these street-hockey games, Game 7s, and you dream of it, so it's going to be a good time."

The win was the Predators' first in three games at home in the series.

Ekholm gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 8:10 of the second period on a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. He took a pass from forward Calle Jarnkrok, circled behind the net, and shot through traffic to beat Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen for his second goal.

"I thought it was big," Ekholm said. "I thought we needed it at the time, but the building really got us going after that. It was a great play by Jarnkrok. He came out of the other side of the net, and I like to do those little interchanges with the forwards coming down. I think their guys had been out there for a while and were a little bit tired, and I got into a pretty good scoring area. Just trying to put the puck at the net, and it went in."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Kesler lights lamp with diving PPG

Neal made it 2-0 at 17:45 of the second on a shot from below the left faceoff circle. Center Ryan Johansen led a 2-on-1 rush up the ice and passed the puck to Neal, who beat Andersen for his second goal.

"[Johansen] just made a great play," Neal said. "He waited and waited until the [defenseman] was out of place and put it on my tape. It was a huge play. Can't say enough about our guys tonight. Everybody battled. We thought we deserved better in their building. To get a win tonight in front of our home crowd is a great feeling."  

Ducks center Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1 with 13.9 seconds remaining in the second. Defenseman Cam Fowler's shot from the point snuck between Rinne's pads, and Kesler got to the rebound for his third goal.

Weber scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds remaining to make it 3-1.

"In the third period, I think it was a little bit of a different mindset to get the looks that are available, to make sure that we're layered properly, that we're managing our discipline, we're managing the puck, we're managing the game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "All those things you talk about going into the third when you have a lead. I thought we did a pretty good job of it, and by doing that, we eliminated a lot of the shots and chances."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Ekholm fires wrister past Andersen

The Ducks have been eliminated from the playoffs by losing Game 7 at home the past three seasons.

"It's a new team, new time," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who is 1-6 in Game 7 in his career with the Washington Capitals and Ducks. "Every year is different, every day is different, and we're looking forward to the game."

Predators forward Craig Smith returned to the lineup after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury. He had not played since he was injured in the first period of Game 3.  

Nashville forward Cody Bass left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period after crashing into the boards on an attempted hit.

Andersen made 23 saves.

Video: Predators edge Ducks, 3-1, force Game 7

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