Predators, Ducks win away from advancing to Western finals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators aren’t happy about letting a first chance at franchise history slip through their fingers. The Edmonton Oilers can look at themselves after one of the biggest collapses ever in the NHL playoffs has put them on the brink of elimination.
Both teams hope being back on home ice proves the winning difference.
The Predators host St. Louis on Sunday after blowing their first chance at advancing to the franchise’s first Western Conference final. Instead, they left St. Louis with a 2-1 loss as the Blues pulled within 3-2 in their semifinal .
”We didn’t get it done last night,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ”We’ve had good success in our building in front of our fans. We’re excited to get home and play the game.”
The Oilers can commiserate. They led 3-0 and were on the verge of taking a 3-2 lead back to Edmonton until Anaheim became only the second team in NHL postseason history to overcome a three-goal deficit in the final four minutes of regulation to force overtime. The 1997 Oilers had the first such rally in Game 3 of the 1997 quarterfinals against Dallas, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Ducks scored all three goals with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.
Now they must fight off elimination Sunday night in their own building.
”We know what’s at stake, and you don’t have to have a lot of experience to figure that out,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.
Some things to know about Sunday’s games:
Blues at Predators, Nashville leads 3-2, 3 p.m. EDT (NBC)
The Predators need their top line to start scoring again. Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson combined for 15 points in sweeping Chicago but have three points together against the Blues. Arvidsson hasn’t scored a goal this series after tying Johansen for the points lead during the regular season (61) while tying Forsberg for the team high with 31 goals.
”It’s just a matter of time before they fall,” Laviolette said.
St. Louis now has won three of its last four games when facing elimination. The Predators are hoping for a boost from the home crowd.
”Pretty great would be an understatement,” Johansen said of the home fans. ”It’s been a lot of fun playing here. Obviously want to keep this going, so it’ll be great to play our style of game and play a solid 60 minutes, maybe more, and show the fans how we play and what we’re made of and keep this run going.”
Ducks at Oilers, Anaheim leads 3-2 (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN)
After posting one of the most improbable comebacks in NHL history to win Game 5, what can the Anaheim Ducks do for an encore in Game 6?
With a fourth straight win, they would earn their second trip to the Western Conference finals in three seasons. If they can silence the crowd at Rogers Place a final time, they would remain unbeaten on the road in this postseason.
They also could avoid a Game 7 at home – the painful scenario that has ended the Ducks’ seasons the last four consecutive years.
That should be extraordinarily difficult in Edmonton, where the Oilers will be fired up – and likely still furious after failing to get a goalie interference call on Rickard Rakell’s tying goal with 15 seconds left in Game 5 .
”It’s a great achievement for our players, and we should feel good about ourselves,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said after Corey Perry’s double-overtime winner. ”But the next one will be the toughest one in their building.”
Rakell completed Anaheim’s tying rally from three goals down in the final 3:16 of Game 5, but only after a prone Ryan Kesler made contact with Talbot in the crease while Rakell’s shot whizzed past him . The Oilers uniformly ripped the no-call after the game, which suggested their heads might have been affected by the decision.
The Ducks now have won two straight overtime games, tapping their experience. Most of the Oilers still have to figure out what it takes to secure the razor-thin margins of victory in a Stanley Cup playoff run.
”It’s just frustration, disappointment,” said Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot, who made 60 saves in Game 5. ”But it’s a race to four, and they’ve only got three. We’ve got two more games.”
AP Hockey Writer Greg Beacham contributed to this report.
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