NHL Predictions: Will the Predators close out the Ducks? 5/22/17

Despite playing without two of their top three centers, the Nashville Predators skated out of Anaheim with a 3-1 Game 5 victory Saturday night in the Western Conference Final.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, right, makes a save with his glove off a shot by Anaheim Ducks center Andrew Cogliano, left, during the third period of Game 5 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals in. He also was tied for first in power play time-on-ice-per-game (3:03), was third in plus-minus (plus-12) and fifth on the team in goals this postseason (3). That was what happened, as Pontus Aberg, a player who had spent all but 15 games of the regular season in the minors, played the unlikely hero in Nashville's 3-1 win against Anaheim. So, but you're right, I think when it comes down to these games, I think you're going to have your best games from our best players because that's what they do. What they didn't do in losing Game 5 and what must be done to keep their Stanley Cup dream alive. The Predators will have the luxury of playing in front of their loyal fans with a chance to eliminate the Anaheim Ducks. "Like you said, we were missing two pretty big players out there". Gibson, Rakell, and Patrick Eaves could all be available for Anaheim in Game 6 but are not locks to play.

"I've said all along, we have two great goalies", Sullivan said Thursday. He scored a combined 32 goals this season for Dallas and the Ducks. The 2007 Stanley Cup champion is the second-leading scorer in the current playoffs, trailing only Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Wilson's goal was the 13th of his career in the National Hockey League playoffs, moving him into a five-way tie for most in Predators history (Forsberg, James Neal, Shea Weber, David Legwand).

It is impossible to quantify the exact impact, but it seems certain that the Predators have benefited from the rest they got prior to the start of this series with the Anaheim Ducks, which continues - and possibly concludes - Monday at Bridgestone Arena (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network).

Game 6 is set for Monday in Nashville.

During his 19 shifts and 11:40 of ice time in Game 5, the center won 71 percent of his face-offs.

"At this point, we can't make an excuse", Wagner said.

Anaheim starting goaltender John Gibson left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Wilson made the Ducks pay, slipping a hard backhand around Bernier for his second goal of the playoffs and the 13th of his Predators postseason career, tying four other Preds for the franchise lead.

Anaheim's collection of veteran stars and up-and-coming talent will have to win back-to-back elimination games to avoid crashing out in the conference finals for the second time in three years. He made 10 saves.

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