As the Conference Finals continue we’ll give you a recap from last night’s game and what to look for in tonight’s action.
Nashville Predators 6, Anaheim Ducks 3 (NSH wins series 4-2)
There was a time when the Nashville Predators were league doormats. There was a time when they couldn’t get past certain playoff roadblocks: first the Red Wings, later the Blackhawks. There was a time that Pekka Rinne was over the hill, too far gone, a millstone around the neck of a franchise that seemed to be stuck in the permanent role of bridesmaid.
Finally, the time has come: the Predators are the bride. Champions of the Western Conference, the Preds have earned the right to play for the Stanley Cup (boy, does it feel strange to type that) after a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
Down two top centers, the Preds needed someone to pitch in. Colton Sissons was the unlikely party to answer the bell. A hat trick from a player who scored all of eight goals in the regular season wasn’t how things were scripted, but Sissons caught fire, scoring three straight Preds goals. The last of those three, with six minutes left, came seconds after the Preds killed a penalty, and put the dagger into the Ducks while sending Bridgestone Arena into pandemonium.
That isn’t to say that the game was a Preds cakewalk. The Ducks controlled play for long stretches, and managed to kill off a five-minute boarding penalty to Nick Ritchie who went Zorro on poor Viktor Arvidsson’s forehead:
thank goodness arvidsson is okay because holy hell nick ritchie zorro-marked him pic.twitter.com/lYmR1L589z— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) May 23, 2017
The Ducks didn’t allow a shot on that five-minute power play, and in the ultimate case of hockey irony, a Randy Carlyle-coached squad lost while outshooting the Preds 41-18.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette is returning to the Final eleven years after he won it all with the Hurricanes. He’s in rare company: the fourth coach in history to win conference titles with three different teams. The other three? Some guys named Dick Irvin, Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan. Nice list.
Nineteen years in the making, Music City will welcome Stanley — Lord, not Ralph — to town on June 3. The Preds now get nearly a week to rest up before beginning the final climb to the summit next Monday in either Pittsburgh or Ottawa. -Brian LeBlanc
Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators (PIT leads 3-2)
8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
- Who to Trust in Goal? I honestly couldn’t pick who I’d feel most comfortable to start in net for Ottawa between Craig Anderson and Mike Condon. Anderson gave up four goals, two of which were of the “how did you let that happen” type, all in the first period. Condon, meanwhile, gave up three goals, all understandably hard to stop (pass from behind crease, insane Crosby assist, and traffic, in order), but three goals is three goals, and I don’t know if Ottawa will win tonight allowing three goals in two periods. Since it’s a home match for the Senators, I expect Anderson in net, and he’ll need support from the crowd and his offense.
- Who to Trust in Goal, Pt. 2? Matt Murray, on the other hand, killed it Sunday night, going 25-for-25 on saves. He limited the Ottawa offense to three goals in a little over five periods in the previous two matchups, which makes his GAA since Fleury was pulled on Wednesday an astounding 1.08 GAA. I think Murray may be the go to, but if the Senators force a Game 7 it will be a tough call.
- Score First: Want to know how you build back momentum after getting demolished AND shutout? Score first. Especially at home, the Senators could use a first period goal, the sooner the better. They have J-G Pageau, Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson and more. It doesn’t make or break the game, but momentum is a tricky thing to build back after such a big loss if you start down on the scoreboard again. -Jake Crouse