The seventh game of an NHL playoff series is supposed to be as exciting as it gets. Given what's happened the past four seasons, the Anaheim Ducks and their fans could be forgiven if they never want to see a Game 7 again.
The Nashville Predators added to the Ducks' recent Game 7 woes on Wednesday with a 2-1 win in Anaheim, knocking off the Pacific Division champions. It's the fourth consecutive year the Ducks' season has ended in a seventh game, and all of the games have been at home. Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad scored first-period goals and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves, including 14 in the third period as the Ducks tried to rally.
Rinne was sharp, sure, but the Ducks had trouble all night getting high percentage shots. Many of Rinne's saves were on shots from the outside, and even as the Ducks pressed for the equalizer with an extra attacker in the dying moments, the Predators defense created a wall around him.
It's hard to rate the varying amounts of Ducks heartbreak year to year, but this loss has to sting. And it's sure to create a lot of questions and soul searching in Anaheim. The now-aging offensive core of the team -- Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler -- is locked up in to the 2020s. The Ducks have over $52 million in salary committed to just 14 NHL-roster players next season. But they're also still a team that was good enough to win the competitive Pacific Division. They just can't get over the hump in the playoffs.
Does that mean coach Bruce Boudreau will be the scape goat? He has a .648 points percentage in the regular season with the Capitals and Ducks but has never taken a team to the final, and has been to the conference final just once.
While Ducks have had their playoff problems recently, the Predators have been playoff underachievers for most of their existence. Since the Predators entered the league in 1998-99, they have been to the playoffs nine times but had only won two series and have never advanced past the second round.
The Predators will now travel to San Jose to face the Sharks starting Friday. They pulled off an upset of their own in the first round, downing the Kings in five games.