Predators 6. Ducks 3. And Lord Stanley’s Cup just booked its first gig in Smashville. And even without Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher, the team’s top centers, the Preds would not be denied. And even without those two, they were able to handle a desperate Ducks team that played with unbelievable urgency and that controlled much of the action for most of the night.
And they were able to do it because they had Pekka Rinne, who was once again the best player on the ice. How else do you explain the Preds being outshot 41-18 but still winning 6-3?? Because of Rinne.
And because of Nash Vegas’ newest hero, 23-year old Colton Sissons, who went legend last night. He entered the game with two career playoff goals. Came into it as a guy who was routinely a healthy scratch during the regular season; a guy who started the season as a fourth line center. He gets the call on the first line and ends up finishing the Ducks with a hatrick while nearly blowing the roof right off that joint with the tiebreaker in the third period.
Can’t say enough about the Preds’ resolve and resiliency; the way they battled back after losing their top two centermen. The way they hung in against an extremely motivated and physical Ducks squad. That was far and away the most physical series of the playoffs so far. Both sides were beaten up. The ultimate war of attrition. And you know even though they were down 2 goals in the third period, the Ducks would make their run. And they did, to tie it up. And even had a man advantage with just over 8 minutes to go, and all the mo. They looked like they were going to shock the world again and somehow get it back to Anaheim. Only to misfire, again, on the power play; which ultimately was their undoing. They were 0-4 last night with a man advantage, 0-10 over the last three games and 2-18 overall. That’s not going to get it done. Not against the Preds.
And they also suffered a really bad break, obviously, when goalie John Gibson couldn’t go. Gibson had played lights out and kept the Ducks in the series and to ask back up Jonathan Bernier to go into that house, in an elimination game, and get it back to Anaheim, as it turns out, was too much to ask. We talked yesterday about how important it was for Anaheim to get out quickly. And to try to take the 7th man out of the game; and let some of the air out of that barn. Instead, they had the worst kind of start, falling behind 1-0 just 81 seconds into the game. And then 2-0 with Bernier allowing those two goals on only four shots. Again, it was a huge ask for Bernier, but when they needed him to come up huge make the big saves and get it back home, he just couldn’t do it.
But, the Ducks have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their guts out. They titled the ice, dominated face-offs, physically manhandled the Preds and more than doubled them up on shots on goal. And came back from a 2 goal deficit in the third period, while fighting their 7th war in just 13 days… They showed unbelievable heart last night and throughout the postseason. But in the end it wasn’t enough, because they simply could not beat Pekka Rinne.
They had their chances but just couldn’t cash them in. After the game, a frustrated Andrew Cogliano of the Ducks said “they’re a good team over there, I just don’t think they’re better than us.”
I get it; you left everything you had out there. You’re frustrated. You can’t believe the season really is over, just like that. And deep down you just know your best beats their best. Beats anyone’s best. I get it. You have to think that. But don’t get it twisted. The better team. It always does. Scoreboard. Look up at it.