The Anaheim Ducks split the first two games at home with the Nashville Predators. Then split the next two games on the road without the help of Bobby Ryan, who received a two-game suspension following game 2. They won the back half of each of the two splits, keeping with their comeback trend. However, on Friday night, they were back at home, Ryan was back in the lineup, and while they were tied in the series, a win was almost needed.
With two or three games left, depending on various outcomes, two would be at Honda Center, including Friday night’s game, and the potential game 7 on Tuesday and one would be in Nashville. However, if the Predators were to win on Friday night, the Ducks’ season would depend on a road victory with the home team able to clinch.
The two teams exchanged goals in the first two periods with goals from Kevin Klein for Nashville in the first and Jason Blake for the Ducks in the second.
Less than a minute into the third, Ryan scored what was undoubtedly his most beautifully scored goal of the season, showing off his maneuvering skills to the Nashville netminder, Pekka Rinne and his defensemen.
Joel Ward countered about ten minutes later. Blake added another with just under six minutes remaining. The Ducks fans were on their feet in the final minute poised and ready for victory, but Shea Weber tied it up with just thirty-five seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.
It was a relatively quick, but hardly a painless period for Ducks fans when Jerred Smithson put the game-winning goal behind Ray Emery for the 4-3 victory.
“It’s heartbreaking,” stated Ryan. “We gave up a goal lead twice in the same period. We got some breaks and scored some goals and at that point you’ve got to put a team away.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf added, “We had a couple of mental breakdowns and they cost us big. We were thirty seconds away from being in control of this thing. Now we’re fighting for our lives.”
The Ducks now must win game 6 in Nashville in order to keep their season alive. However, if there is one team that finds motivation when their backs are against the wall, it’s the Anaheim Ducks. They won the most one-goal goal games during the regular season out of all thirty teams in the NHL and have become fairly well known for their must-win victories and come-from-behind stunners.
The sixth game of this series will be in Nashville on Sunday at 3:00 PST.