After a Jason Blake goal off a beautiful assist from the ageless Teemu Selanne gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead, the Ducks managed to hang on to that lead up until 35 seconds left. That's when Shea Weber crushed the hearts of Ducks fans everywhere by tying up the score on a one-timer and sending the game into overtime, where it took less than two minutes for the Preds to score the game-winning goal.
We all know how it ended. But it's time to look towards today's game.
The Ducks will literally be fighting for their lives in a few hours as they begin Game 6 in Nashville and they will have no time for errors. After a somewhat slow performance Friday, the Ducks will need to play differently to tie the series up. Here are a few changes that must be made in order for the Ducks to get past the Predators.
They Must Get Into an Offensive Rhythm
The Ducks looked sluggish on offense last Friday and could not seem to get into a good rhythm. They weren't aggressive on the forecheck and could not seem to win an offensive faceoff. The game-tying goal was spurred by a Mike Fisher faceoff win over Sakku Koivu, which aided in setting up Weber's score.
Anaheim has one of the best front lines in Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, but Perry and Getzlaf struggled to get going during the game. Bobby Ryan, as we all know, scored what was perhaps the most beautiful goal of the playoffs, but still must step up along with the others in order to win this game.
They Cannot Get Scared When They Take a Lead
Both times during the third period when the Ducks took a lead they looked desperate to hold onto that lead. After the spectacular Bobby Ryan goal, the Ducks spent most of the time in their defensive zone while not really trying to capitalize on opportunities. This led to a tying goal from Joel Ward.
Later, when Jason Blake scored with 5:44 left, the Ducks did not do enough to advance that lead and Weber ended up scoring when Nashville pulled Pekka Rinne. The Ducks need to stop icing the puck when they take a small lead and work on putting more points across the board. A one-goal lead is not good enough.
They Cannot Let Nashville's Momentum Get to Them
The Preds do not have a history of excelling in the postseason. But right now they have completed numerous firsts: the first overtime win in the playoffs, the first victory in a Game 5 and the first time to win three games in a series (espn.com).
That kind of momentum can really pump a team up, but the Ducks must put Friday's disappointment behind them and strike early and often. They cannot play tentatively against a Nashville team who has so much to gain from winning tonight.
This Ducks team has gotten where they are by excelling most during crunch time, which should bode well for the upcoming game. They just need to get into an offensive rhythm, take bigger leads and put Friday's heartbreaker out of their heads.