Preds win from ousting Ducks to reach 1st Stanley Cup Finals

Nashville trailed 1 to 0 in the second period after a Chris Wagner goal.

Austin Watson's empty netter with a minute to go closed the book on Game 5, as the Ducks had no chance to go all Nashville on the Predators in the final moments of a locked-up game.

Aberg and several other role players all came up big in the Predators' first game of the season without Johansen, their top-line center and leading postseason scorer. Anaheim's Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Antoine Vermette have all scored just one goal apiece over the Ducks' 16 playoff games.

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".

"When they skate, usually that leads you to believe that there is a great opportunity for him to play", head coach Randy Carlyle said at Monday's media availability.

Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for the Predators.

Consider that they won Game 5 with their top two centers, Ryan Johansen (compartment syndrome surgery in left thigh) and Mike Fisher (undisclosed injury), on the shelf, and have played the entire series without Craig Smith (undisclosed) and Kevin Fiala (fractured leg). The Predators are now one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

With the news that Ryan Johansen would miss the remainder of the playoffs for the Predators, many started to worry that Nashville's secondary scoring wouldn't be up to the task.

Prior to Game 5, Nashville was without its captain and its No. 1 centre. An incredible play by Ekholm led to Aberg's first ever playoff goal, 2-1.

Coach Peter Laviolette said Monday that he felt comfortable using Gaudreau at center even though Gaudreau mostly played on the wing for the Predators' American Hockey League farm team in Milwaukee. Pressed to explain his thought, he said, "I just think there's times where we fight through a lot".

Regardless of the Game 4 loss, Nashville still has the best home-ice advantage of any team this postseason. In Game 5, his bid for the victor generated a rebound for right winger Pontus Aberg, who lit the lamp to put Nashville one win away from its first Stanley Cup finals appearance. Forsberg has scored two third-period goals, equalizers in Games 3 and 4, and he added the primary assist on the potentially series-swinging, final-frame goal in Game 5. "I knew I had to be good if we wanted to win these games". All of this players will be evaluated, therefore come game six we shall find out if they will be starting. The last team to beat the Ducks in a Game 5 at Honda Center also was the Preds.

  • Julie Sanders