With a 3-1 win in Game Six on Monday night over the Anaheim Ducks, the Nashville Predators have tied their First Round Series 3-3 and will play in a Game Seven for the first time in franchise history. The Preds have also won a Game Six when facing elimination for the initial time in the history of the club, two feats that have extended their season at least one more game.
Nashville scored first in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd and held steady until the final horn, sealing their date on Wednesday night.
“I’d like to sweep every series, so I don’t have to play any Game Sevens, but definitely you watch them, and it’s exciting,” Captain Shea Weber said. “You never know what could happen, and we’re looking to go in their building and play another solid game.”
The first period went scoreless, but at the 8:10 mark of the second stanza, Mattias Ekholm sent the Bridgestone Arena crowd into a frenzy when his shot beat Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen and gave Nashville a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t give up too much, we didn’t create too much, but when that first puck got in I thought the whole building just exploded, and so did we too,” Ekholm said. “We followed it up with a couple of good shifts and got it down in their end, and almost scored on the next shift. It was something that just took some weight off of our shoulders, I think, we felt like we can score now and we got that first goal.”
James Neal got his second tally of the postseason when he finished off a 2-on-1 with Ryan Johansen at 17:45 for a 2-0 Preds advantage.
The Ducks got one on the power play before the period was out, courtesy of Ryan Kesler, but Nashville kept the pressure up and got some huge saves from goaltender Pekka Rinne in the process, before Weber clinched the victory with an empty-net goal with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
Now, it’s off to Game Seven, where absolutely anything can happen. Just ask Peter Laviolette, who won a Stanley Cup in a Game Seven back in 2006.
“Game Sevens are awesome,” Laviolette said. “I think our players will be ready, they’ll be excited. I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to them about that because this game has just ended. We have a day here to get down that groove and that mode with our team. I don’t think there’s anything better in the Stanley Cup [Playoffs] than a Game Seven when everything means something. It’s a big game, our guys will be excited.”
“Before the game, even though you try to think about just Game Six, I was kind of thinking about it,” Rinne said of the prospect of reaching Game Seven. “It’s a great feeling. I’ve never experienced a Game Seven, not even in the minors or anywhere. It’s something new, and I’m just really stoked about it.”
Bring on the Noise:
The decibel level inside Bridgestone Arena on Monday night may have distracted the Anaheim Ducks just a tad, but it undoubtedly gave the Nashville Predators a boost as they skated to a Game Six victory to force a seventh and deciding game on Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The win was Nashville’s first at home during the 2016 postseason, a victory that was made sweeter in front of their home fans, who provided the club with countless standing ovations throughout the evening.
“You could tell 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, but like I said, I’m just really excited about the Game Seven.”
Ryan Johansen, who continues to be amazed with the fans in Nashville during his first few months in town, couldn’t have been happier to witness a postseason win in front of the Loyal Legion.
"I would have been really disappointed if we lost every game at home,” Johansen said. “What a fun night to be a hockey player and play in an atmosphere like that in my new city, so I really enjoyed tonight."
Gif of the Game:
Need we say more?
Shea Weber on playing in his first Game Seven:
“It’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it. You grow up playing in these street hockey games, Game Sevens, and you dream of it. So it’s going to be a good time.”
Craig Smith returned in Game Six after missing two games with a lower-body injury, skating 14:23 of ice time and registering one shot on goal.
Cody Bass left Monday’s game with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Game Seven between the Preds and the Ducks is set for Wednesday night in Anaheim at Honda Center, a 9 p.m. (CT) start time. The game can be seen locally on Fox Sports Tennessee or nationally on NBCSN.
Forward James Neal is spotlighted after his two points on Monday night help force the Preds’ first Game Seven.
Infographic: Preds Force Game 7