It wasn’t a perfect clinching game for the Nashville Predators. In fact, it was far from it.
The Ducks outshot the Predators, 41-18, over the course of Game 6, and 25-8 over the first two periods alone. Nashville held a two-goal lead and just sat on it until the inevitable Ducks comeback in the third period.
And yet, here we are. The Predators are going to their first Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history thanks to a 6-3 victory on Monday.
Colton Sissons is the hero, as his first career NHL playoff hat trick lifted the Predators over the hump. Pekka Rinne was a wall in net as he saved 38 shots for Nashville, and he did it all without much shot support from his offense.
The Ducks were the masters of comebacks this postseason, but proved unable to find one last gem to save their season. Their play in the final few games of this series will be dissected, but the injury to John Gibson was likely the start of their undoing.
Nashville will have a few days to wait, and celebrate, before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. But what a Stanley Cup Final this is shaping up to be.
Predators 6, Ducks 3 (Nashville wins series, 4-2)
Three Things We Learned
The Predators really should not have won this game
Besides the lopsided shot totals, the Predators were also terrible on faceoffs as the Ducks won 62 percent of them through the game. The possession numbers also tell a different story than the final score, as Anaheim won the possession battle all night.
Yep, Rinne definitely stole this one.
Nashville’s defense also helped
The Ducks would have had a lot more shots on goal had the Predators’ defense been idle. On top of the 41 shots on net, Anaheim had 22 shots blocked by Nashville players. The closer you look at the numbers, the bigger the disparity gets between how well the Ducks played and how poorly the Predators played.
Anaheim lost a key player minutes into the game, and that didn’t help its chances
Nick Ritchie took himself out of Game 6 after this hit to Viktor Arvidsson that gave him a very meme-able forehead.
Nick Ritchie lays an atrocious hit on Viktor Arvidsson. Arvidsson down the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/Rh0UgIoYl0— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) May 23, 2017
Already missing Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves, the loss of Ritchie piled onto the missing offensive depth for the Ducks.
Cam Fowler tied the game, 3-3, nine minutes into the third, marking the first real test for the Predators.
Because of Sissons’ hat trick, the Predators won the game, but Filip Forsberg’s empty-netter gave Nashville the breathing room they needed.
Conn Smythe Watch
Rinne, no doubt. His 38 saves won the Predators this game and the series. Even though his numbers have gone down since the opening round, a .941 save percentage is astounding through 16 games this postseason.