Gibson out, Bernier makes 1st playoff start in net for Ducks

Gibson out, Bernier makes 1st playoff start in net for Ducks

That's not to say that the games have been anything less than entertaining and well played.

Everyone knew the Nashville vs. Anaheim Ducks series would be a grinding affair focused on defense and the imposing of wills. They're a good team. From the opening face-off, the intensity was palpable.

Sissons led the rush as the five Ducks players converged on the puck.

Just 81 seconds into the contest, Austin Watson's shot deflected off of Ducks defenseman Brandon Montour and past Bernier to give the Predators a 1-0 on their first shot of the game after a Ducks giveaway. Pay $20 and they'll let you take three swings - and even throw in a cowboy hat.

Sissons increased the lead to 3-1 with a goal off of a scramble in front five minutes into the third period. With 9:00 to go, the Ducks were whistled for the first of four penalties before the end of the period. His play made the absence of Ducks goalie John Gibson even more glaring. Of course the Predators scored twice during that time, forcing overtime.

Ondrej Kase scored his second career goal - both in this series - giving Anaheim a chance to tie the National Hockey League record with a fifth rally when trailing by multiple goals.

"When I look at Nashville being the last team in the playoffs in the West and this team being an underdog, it plays perfectly into what he preaches and the way he coaches", Briere said. The series was heading back to Anaheim- surely good news for the Ducks, right?

Anaheim, meanwhile, lost in the conference final for the second time in three years. Captain Mike Fisher has missed two games with an upper-body injury. However, things went dry from there. Esten and Mandile met while filming Nashville in 2012, and Mandile invited Esten to sing with the group - which also tours as Sixwire - at some Preds games.

"In the back of your head, you've been thinking about the Finals and then when the buzzer goes off, it's an unbelievable feeling", Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said.




Over in the Pittsburgh-Ottawa series, the story has been the same - unexpected outcomes. Not sweeping the Blackhawks could have made for a very different series.

This does, somehow, feel like a long time coming for a franchise with more continuity than a relatively recent expansion team ought to have.

The Predators lost No. 1 center Ryan Johansen to a serious thigh injury after Game 4, and it was Sissons who stepped up to replace his offense. The Senators took advantage attacking the blue line and pressuring with their fore-checking. They won the series.

The Penguins had other ideas moving forward.

But now, the Penguins control their own destiny.

"What solidified it for me was after I had a conversation with David Poile and Lavvy and how they embraced me and just wanted me to do my job and be an important part in helping this team to win", said Subban, who has two goals and 10 points in the playoffs. Game 7 will be played tonight.

Said Rinne, the longest-tenured Predator: "In the back of your head, you've been thinking about the Final, and then when the buzzer goes off, it's an wonderful feeling". Either way, the matchup is compelling.

The easiest way to get Stanley Cup Final tickets is to become a Predators season ticket holder, but that can be costly, with packages starting at $1,300.

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