Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators (A: -110, H: -110, O/U: 5)
Ducks lead series 3-2
The Nashville Predators flew home last week in control of their first-round playoff series and looking to push the Anaheim Ducks to the brink of elimination. Three straight losses later, the Predators returned home with a far different agenda – needing a victory Monday night to keep their season going as they prepare to host the Ducks in Game 6.
Since dropping a pair of one-goal decisions at home, Anaheim has outscored Nashville 12-3 to seize a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. “Just like our season,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We started off terrible and then got good. It’s a race to four and we still have to win another game. But I don’t think there’s a single guy in this room that didn’t think we’d be in this position.” The No. 7 seed Predators also didn’t expect to be in this position after taking their first two-game series lead in franchise history – on the road no less – before dropping three in a row to the Pacific Division champions. “It’s do or die,” Nashville center Ryan Johansen said. “It’s about finding a way to get it in the net and keeping them from scoring. We have to throw them everything we’ve got.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CNBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
PROBABLE GOALIES: Ducks – F. Andersen (0.922%), Predators – P. Rinne (0.906%).
ABOUT THE DUCKS (49-27-11, 42-45 ATS, 33-35 O/U): Every move seems to be working for Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, including the surprise top-line promotion of Ryan Garbutt, who put his team ahead to stay in Game 5 with a second-period goal that accounted for his first point of the series. “He’s as good a forechecker as we have, he’s responsible defensively, and if people take liberties, he’s not afraid to mix it up,” Boudreau said of the decision to pair Garbutt with Getzlaf and David Perron. “I just thought it was a good fit.” Frederik Andersen has been spectacular since taking over for John Gibson in net, turning aside 84-of-87 shots for a .966 save percentage.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (43-30-14, 36-51 ATS, 34-34 O/U): Forward Craig Smith, who finished third on the team with 21 goals, has essentially missed three contests after suffering a lower-body injury in the opening minutes of Game 3, but he was back at practice Sunday and remains listed as day-to-day. Nashville must find a way to solve Anaheim’s penalty-killing unit, which ranked No. 1 during the regular season and has snuffed out 14 straight power-play chances over the past three games and 21-of-22 in the series. The Predators led the league with 55 goals from their defensemen but have managed only a pair of assists from captain Shea Weber in the past three games.
* Ducks are 9-2 in their last 11 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Predators are 0-4 in their last 4 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Ducks last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Over is 4-1-3 in the last 8 meetings in Nashville.
Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues (A: -105, H: -115, O/U: 5)
Series tied 3-3
The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues are no strangers to many elements of the current script, with the former ultimately overcoming a two-game deficit in 2014 to defeat the latter in a hard-hitting first-round playoff series. The reigning Stanley Cup-champion Blackhawks look to repeat the feat on Monday when the bitter Central Division rivals play a winner-take-all Game 7 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo did his best to put a positive spin on the position of the Blues, who are perilously close to being bounced in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season – despite having home-ice advantage in each series. “We worked 82 games this year to get that home ice,” Pietrangelo said after seeing Chicago score five unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 victory in Game 6 on Saturday. “If there’s a time to use it, it’s right now.” The Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 series deficit to eliminate a rival in 2013, having done so versus Detroit in a second-round matchup.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, CSN-Chicago
PROBABLE GOALIES: Blackhawks – C. Crawford (0.923%), Blues – B. Elliott (0.930%)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (50-28-10, 39-49 ATS, 33-33 O/U): Although Brent Seabrook scored the overtime goal to oust the Red Wings three years ago, the defenseman isn’t taking his team’s success for granted heading into Monday’s pivotal contest. “I don’t think you ever learn how to play in a Game 7,” Seabrook told the Chicago Sun-Times. “When you play in more of them, you get — comfortable’s not the right word — but you get not as nervous, I guess.” Seabrook has recorded at least a point in all four of his previous Game 7s, including a goal to help Chicago oust Anaheim in the 2015 Western Conference final.
ABOUT THE BLUES (52-26-10, 39-49 ATS, 35-41 O/U): Vladimir Tarasenko scored his series-leading fourth goal and 14th in 19 career playoff games on Saturday to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead before the roof caved in. The 24-year-old Russian reportedly was upset after seeing limited time during a power play despite scoring 12 of his career-best 40 goals with the man advantage, but coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters that St. Louis had the puck in the offensive zone and couldn’t get Tarasenko on the ice. Veteran Troy Brouwer will play in his seventh consecutive Game 7 on Monday, having competed in one with Chicago in 2011, two with Washington the following year, one in 2013 and two more with the Capitals in 2015.
* Blackhawks are 8-2 in their last 10 when their opponent allows 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Over is 9-2-6 in Blackhawks last 17 games following a win.
* Over is 11-2-3 in Blues last 16 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Road team is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
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