Nick Ritchie scored the winning goal 3:21 into the third period as the Ducks defeated the Oilers 2-1 in Game 7 on Wednesday night to win their second-round series. And if there's anywhere that Anaheim holds a decided edge over their opponents, it's in the experience category.
Ultimately, this game needed overtime, like so many other games in these playoffs, and a player with some controversy surrounding him came through in the big moment.
The Edmonton Oilers cleaned out their lockers Friday after their turnaround season, knowing that the newfound success changes everything. "I think Washington, for sure, is due to win". (And every bit as entertaining as the matchup out East - don't let anyone tell you otherwise.) Better yet, it is a rematch of a series from last year's postseason, only this year, the Ducks and Predators have exorcised demons and are riding high.
Anaheim continues to rely mainly on Ryan Getzlaf to carry the offense and he hasn't been up to the task recently.
They attacked the Ducks in waves, with their defence, which had entered Game 1 having contributed 32% of the team's goals, acting as fourth and fifth forwards.
As for the revenge factor, Ducks center Ryan Kesler admitted that payback for the elimination at the hands of the Predators last season will add to their motivation.
NOTES: With Oilers D Andrej Sekera (undisclosed injury) out for the series, Eric Gryba was active for the second straight game. He's on a tear.
During Game 1, he continued his dominant postseason performance and still hasn't allowed more than three goals.
After beating Anaheim in two previous playoff series, the fantastic Finn and his Predators are looming again in front of the Ducks in the Western Conference finals.
It's getting really hard to find the shortcomings of this Predators' squad through two rounds.
- Looking for a much better Game Two from the Predators than the one we saw in St. Louis.
Fortunately for the Ducks, their one shot on goal in that stretch found the back of the net, giving them a 1-0 lead just 5:15 into the first period. He took a pass from Sweden's Viktor Arvidsson and deked goaltender Jake Allen for his second goal of the post-season. "What am I'm supposed to say, I don't like them?" James Neal (2G, 1 A) and Filip Forsberg (2G, 1A) each led Nashville with three points.
Getzlaf and Perry have combined for only seven points in six chances in Game 7 going into another one at home against Edmonton.
Still, it would have been valuable to force the Predators to play from behind in a series for the first time in these playoffs.
The Anaheim players have been vocal about the need for a good start. "I'm truly amazed at how good he is", Gretzky said.
The Predators goalie, who had looked so hopeless on the game's first shot - granted, it was the eighth goal of the playoffs for Silfverberg - was considerably sharper on the following shots he faced. A lot of the scoring onus could be on the rest of the Ducks' depth, too.
They were supposed to go away rather quickly in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, the conference's top seed.
Since the beginning of the second round - a span now of seven games - the Predators have given up just one power play goal against in 19 opportunities.
After opening the series with two wins in Anaheim and letting a three-goal lead slip through their fingers with less than four minutes remaining in regulation in Game 5, the Oilers knew this series could have turned out differently.
Anaheim, Calif. - Both the Anaheim Ducks and their fans showed up late for the start of the Western Conference finals. "We were fresh, we had a couple good days of practice".
Nashville looked even more dominant in the second period, in which the Ducks were presented with two power plays and got nothing on either, and precious little possession on the second. Getzlaf isn't as dominant there, but he's a much more gifted point producer and this year was a huge return to form for him. The Ducks' last tally with the man advantage came in Game 2 of the series with the Oilers, and they've gone 0-for-20 in the six contests since.