Being eleven points back of a playoff spot, most people have deemed that the Anaheim Ducks season is over. However, the Ducks don’t believe it.
“We still believe in each other and we know our task. We pretty much have to win every game. It’s a tough one, but if we want to make the playoffs that’s what we have to do,” stated Luca Sbisa.
It’s not going to be an easy road if the Ducks are able to pull off the feat: three of their remaining games are against Pacific division rivals, and only one of their remaining games in not against a Western conference opponent.
The race in the West is a tight one, with a mere seven points currently separating sixth place from eleventh.
Their opponent for the first of these ten games was the Nashville Predators, who currently sit in fifth place in West, but had suffered a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles King the night before.
Although 2,000 miles separates Nashville from Anaheim, these two teams have a seemingly ever-growing rivalry stemming from the first round of last year’s playoffs, and the Ducks, entering the game, were winless against Nashville this season.
“We know our record against them going back to the playoffs,” claimed Bobby Ryan. “They’re a good team. They’ve beat us handily a few times.”
Knowing how much was on the line Sunday night, the Ducks came out ready to play. They fired shots at Anders Lindback, who was in net for the Preds giving Pekka Rinne a rare night off.
However, while on a penalty kill, Devante Smith-Pelly scored his first shorthanded goal of his NHL career off a nice, cross-ice feed from Ryan Getzlaf, and giving the Ducks an early lead.
“Obviously, he’s one of the best playmakers in the league,” Smith-Pelly said of Getzlaf. “I’m sure everyone on our bench knew he was going to slide it over and I just kind of waited for it.”
Both teams had some quality chances in the second period, but were unable to get anything into the net, but early in the third, the Preds recovered the puck off a defensive zone turnover by the Ducks and Patric Hornqvist was able to capitalize and tied the game up at one with more than eighteen minutes remaining.
About halfway through the third, Nashville took their first lead of the game on a goal from Mike Fisher. And to seal the victory, David Legwand scored an empty-netter and the Predators swept the Ducks on the season with a final 3-1 victory.
Coach Bruce Boudreau commented, “I think we had a tremendous effort tonight and we came up short.”
The next will head up to San Jose for a quick road trip on Monday before returning to Honda Center on Wednesday.