Nashville makes the final round as the second wild card team in the West, having eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks along the way.
As with the rest of the series, Game 6 was an eventful one even before puck drop. The Predators were without two centers in captain Mike Fisher and star Ryan Johansen, who attended the game on crutches after emergency surgery after Game 4:
Ryan Johansen entering the rink to cheer on his Nashville teammates in game 6. pic.twitter.com/q4rlhrJysG
— Christine Simpson (@SNChrisSimpson) May 22, 2017
The Predators struck early, as Austin Watson scored again at 1:21:
That was Frederick Gaudreau, playing in his second career playoff game, beating Ryan Kesler on the draw. Watson’s shot hit defenseman Josh Manson’s stick and went past Bernier.
Colton Sissons made it 2-0 with a snipe that beat Bernier from the slot at 8:47 of the first, one that the Ducks keeper definitely wants back:
After this goal came the game’s most nasty moment, as Nick Ritchie was ejected for boarding Viktor Arvidsson.
The Ducks cut the deficit to 2-1 on a smart pass from Ryan Getzlaf to Ondrej Kase, who scored into a wide open net at 4:45 of the second period.
The Predators and Ducks traded goals in the third period, with Sissons making it 3-1 at 3:00 of the third period and Chris Wagner cutting it back to 3-2 just two minutes later.
But at 8:52, Cam Fowler tied the game at 3-3:
Corey Perry made contact with Pekka Rinne, but the Nashville goalie had time t reset.
The dam finally broke, as the Ducks were playing desperate hockey, pouring shots on Rinne while the Predators failed to match that energy level.
Anaheim had a golden chance to take the lead, after a delay of game penalty for a puck over the glass. But the Predators killed it, and then seconds later, Sissons completed his hat trick.
What a beautiful play. Smart puck movement, and an emphatic finish from Sissons to the lead.
Fans didn’t realize that Sissons had completed a hat trick, as his second goal was credited to Pontus Aberg. But later, during a TV commercial break, hats flooded the ice when fans were informed it was a hat trick.
Filip Forsberg scored an empty netter, his eighth of the playoffs, a Nashville postseason record. Watson scored his second into an empty net as well.
It was bedlam inside Bridgestone Arena. It was bedlam outside Bridgestone Arena, where thousands gathered to party and watch the game.
After 19 long years of playoff disappointments, close calls, near relocations, flying catfish and a slowly building surge of fan obsession, the Nashville Predators will play for the Stanley Cup.
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