Ducks, Penguins advance to National Hockey League conference finals

In Edmonton, German forward Leon Draisaitl paced the attack with five points, including three goals, and Mark Letestu had two goals and two assists as the Oilers levelled the series at 3-3.

To a man, the Ducks all said they didn't panic when they went down a goal early, and credited the fans for staying into it. Nick Ritchie, who eventually scored the victor in the third period, even said the team somehow relaxed and started playing better after going down 1-0. The Oilers wunderkind had three goals in the series but none came in the final two games.

Of all the teams in the playoffs, Nashville has had the quickest path to the third round, sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round, then eliminating the St. Louis Blues in 6 games while never looking particularly bad at any time.

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), from Denmark, can't get the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period of Game 7 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinal, W.

So when he found a patch of open ice during the third period Wednesday night, Ritchie could let fly with a lovely shot, his wrists unencumbered by the weight of history.

Anaheim and Nashville meet in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals with the victor advancing to play for the Stanley Cup.

The Ducks begin their final series to play for the Stanley Cup when they host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the best-of 7 Western Conference finals at Honda Center on Friday night.

The Predators fell to the Ducks in their most recent meeting, 4-3 in a shootout on March 7, after Anaheim rallied from an early two-goal deficit to tie the game and later win in the extra rounds of a shootout. "To us, winning this series means a little bit more". He's only scored once himself in the playoffs, but his best work was done in the defensive end in keeping Connor McDavid in check.

That finally ended Friday night, even after the Ducks overcame a predictably exhausted start and got a playoff career-best 43 saves from goalie John Gibson, who helped them through a monster penalty kill just to get to overtime.

What seems like a rematch of last year's Round One series, Nashville Predators lock horns with Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

"I don't want to say relief because we expect to do what we did", Ryan Getzlaf said.

We'll have up-to-the-minute scoring and stats here throughout the game. "But it's a fact that we don't have to talk about it anymore". Ryan Getzlaf shows us time and time again that he's capable of strapping a team to his back in big games and carrying it across the goal line. Anaheim, meanwhile, is in the conference finals for the second time in three seasons, and seeking its first trip to the championship round since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. It was the 6-foot-5 Finnish netminder who stoned the Ducks in Game 7 last season with 36 saves.

"It's a big step for us - not only for us as players, but also as an organization", goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It's a phenomenal feeling".

Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said the rest paid off for the Predators. Caggiula's stick struck the puck to put it over Gibson's right leg and trickling in 3:31 into the first period.

The one-timer, which hit an Anaheim defender on the way to the back of the net, ended what had been a sloppy, if not undisciplined, game. Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (lower body) played only once against the Oilers but should be closing in on a return. In front of Rinne, the Nashville defense has been great.

Who: Edmonton Oilers vs.

NOTES: Anaheim remained without two key injured veterans.

  • Julie Sanders