In the battle of attrition that was Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, an unheralded and relatively unknown player made the play to place the Nashville Predators on the doorstep of the Stanley Cup finals. However, the Ducks had a last-minute scratch in the form of their leading goal scorer, Rickard Rakell, and goalie John Gibson did not return after the first intermission due to a lower-body injury.
Nashville Predators celebrate after Colin Wilson scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of Game 5 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, May 20, 2017. The 24-year-old Swede led the team with a career-high 33 goals this season to go along with 18 assists.
After five hard-hitting games between the Predators and Ducks in the Western Conference finals, these teams are closer than Siamese twins.
However, that was the only goal the Ducks managed against the Predators, who did a good job keeping Anaheim's big forwards away from the crease. He also had two goals and four points in seven playoff games.
The Nashville Predators might be in serious trouble. Winning one game is laudable, but Nashville will be harder pressed to sustain this level without their No. 1 center.More news: Assange still faces London arrest after Sweden drops rape investigation
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The coach only confirmed that Johansen was hurt during Game 4, but played through the injury and finished the game. Following up on Filip Forsbergs rebound, Aberg got off a shot before diving over a fallen Anaheim defender. "We can't afford to do that in the next game".
Jonathan Bernier took over for Gibson and stopped 16 shots in his first appearance in almost two weeks for the Ducks, calling it a "weird situation". "I think we're here for a reason as well". "After he was done with his speech, we did not do the pregame warmup, we were ready to play the game".
Aberg was taken back to the dressing room for concussion protocol examination soon after the goal because of an earlier play where he fell face-first to the ice. "[We] showed a lot of character".
Getzlaf has scored 18 points in 16 playoff games during one of the best postseasons of his National Hockey League career, but he has been held scoreless in six of the Ducks' past seven games, including Game 5. The duo combined for 65 regular-season goals. He's now allowed just 25 goals in 15 postseason games this spring. F Miikka Salomaki also returned from five games off. F Nic Kerdiles made his third appearance of the postseason for Anaheim in Rakell's absence.
Predators center Vernon Fiddler said Laviolette's pregame talk went a long way toward convincing the team that it had a chance to win the game without its top two centers.