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Game Seven: Preds vs. Ducks

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game Seven: Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks (Series Tied 3-3)
  9 P.M. (CT) | Honda Center
TV: FS-TN, NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 8:30 P.M. (CT)

The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks will be shaking hands tonight at Honda Center, but only one will be moving on. Game Seven between the Preds and Ducks comes this evening to settle their Western Conference Round One series, the first Game Seven in Nashville franchise history.

The Preds kept the series going with a 3-1 victory in Game Six on Monday night in Nashville, thanks to goals from Mattias Ekholm, James Neal and Shea Weber. Forty-eight hours later, the Predators have already staved off elimination once, and they're hoping to do it again.

“The guys should be excited about Game Seven; it’s no different than our Game Six,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday before the team departed for California. “If we didn’t win last night, we were done, so I think we have that going for us. We’ve already taken on an elimination game and found success… Our guys are ready to play.”

“The better team will win tomorrow, and we feel like we’ve done a great job up to this point,” Neal said. “We’ve been underdogs all year, and I don’t think people saw us in this position. Every guy in our dressing room knows that, and we just have to have that belief that we can do it.”

Nashville won Games One, Two and Six of the series, with two of those victories occurring in Anaheim. Although the Predators have never played in a Game Seven, six different Preds have skated in the decisive contest with previous teams, with Barret Jackman, Mike Fisher, Neal, Eric Nystrom, Paul Gaustad and Mike Ribeiro each skating in at least one Seventh Game. Of those players, only Ribeiro has emerged with a win. In 2004, his Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins.

Tonight's contest will be Laviolette's fifth time to be behind the bench of a Game Seven matchup. He has a 4-1 record, winning the 2006 Eastern Conference Final against Buffalo 4-2, the Stanley Cup Final versus Edmonton in 2006 (3-1), the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinal versus Boston (4-3) and the 2011 Quarterfinal against Buffalo (4-3). His only Game Seven loss came in the 2002 Quarterfinal series against Toronto (L, 4-2).

Weber, who now has 12 career postseason goals to his name, is one goal away from tying David Legwand for the top spot on the all-time franchise playoff goals list. Weber and Colin Wilson are tied for the team lead with four points each during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, followed by Neal, Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg who each have three points. Weber, Neal and Ekholm have two goals apiece during the postseason.

Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf (3a) and Corey Perry (3g,1a) have appeared in a team-leading five Game Sevens each, with the forwards collecting three and four points respectively in those games. In each of the last three postseasons, Anaheim has lost a 3-2 series lead, having fallen at home in Game Seven on each occasion.

The previous NHL franchise to make its first Game Seven appearance was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2004 Eastern Conference Final. The winner of tonight's game will face the San Jose Sharks in the Second Round.

Update: Preds fans are invited to watch Game Seven in the Lexus Lounge. View the @PredsNHL timeline on Twitter for the details.

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