Ducks go shorthanded into must-win Game 6 against Nashville


The scenes could not have been different for the Ducks and the Nashville Predators when they landed in Nashville on Sunday.

Hundreds of cheering fans decked in yellow greeted the Predators at the airport as the city anticipates a coronation.

The Ducks landed without forwards Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves, and with a questionable status for goalie John Gibson as they rest on the verge of elimination.


Coach Randy Carlyle said Rakell and Eaves did not travel for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Monday at Bridgestone Arena, with the Ducks trailing the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Eaves has been out since April 30 because of a lower-body injury but Carlyle on Saturday upgraded his status to day to day, and Rakell also has a lower-body injury after he was hobbled in Game 4.

“It wasn’t a positive response from Eaves in skating [Saturday],” Carlyle said. “So we decided we’d leave him at home. And Rakell wasn’t ready to skate today. So both players are not available to us.”

Carlyle said Gibson will be reassessed Monday, following a lower-body injury that forced him out of Game 5. Jonathan Bernier would start if Gibson is not ready.

With all these issues hanging over their heads, the Ducks assumed the pressure’s-on-them, backs-against-the-wall stance and will take the same approach that won them Game 7 of the second round.

“I think with our team, there’s things that stack up against us all the time,” Andrew Cogliano said. “I think there’s things that, for whatever reason, haven’t gone our way, but we continue to push on. And I think Randy’s done a great job in terms of keeping us pushing in the right direction when things kind of get sidetracked.”


“Sometimes … with our team it feels like everyone’s against us in a lot of ways. And we’re a really close team. No one wants our season to end. And that’s how we’re going to approach the game.”

Cogliano pointed to their Game 7 win and said “we’re 100% confident that we can come in and win this game.”

The Ducks could use supporting offense to make that happen. Rakell and Eaves accounted for 65 goals in the regular season, although Eaves didn’t join the Ducks until February. Rakell is their third-leading playoff goal scorer.

Closing is also a sore spot. Nashville has outscored the Ducks 6-0 in the third period of the last three games. Defensively, the Ducks still can’t curb Filip Forsberg, who has points in every game of an excruciatingly tight series that has been tied or within one goal for 89% of the total playing time, according to the NHL.

The Ducks also seem to alternate between a team that looks drained to a team that will run through any adversity. Veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa knows how to tackle this latest test.

“You can’t play like your life’s on the line,” Bieksa said. “I think you’ve got to play with the mentality of attacking. I don’t think you can sit back and just hope that you make it to another game.


“We’re capable of winning. That’s for sure. We’ve proven that time after time. We have the team.”

Nashville can make the same argument, having gotten to within one win from its first Stanley Cup finals despite the losses of Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher.

The Predators are the darlings of their city. The local television rating was a record 13.3 for Game 5, according to This is the franchise’s third 3-2 series lead, and its fans are hungry to close it out.

“It’s the craziest it’s ever been,” forward Colin Wilson said. “You see it around town. You see it on social media. You can’t really get away from it. So it’s exciting to see this hockey town turn into even more of a hockey town.”

Johansen update

Johansen was treated for acute compartment syndrome of the left thigh, Predators general manager David Poile said in a release. Johansen developed symptoms after Game 4, underwent season-ending surgery and has “no permanent injury to his muscle, nerves or blood vessels and we expect a full and complete recovery,” Poile said.


Acute compartment syndrome happens when severe pressure builds in an enclosed muscle space in the body.