Ducks and Penguins in conference finals
ANAHEIM: Nick Ritchie scored the game winner and the Anaheim Ducks ended a Game Seven jinx by beating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Wednesday to book their spot in the NHL Conference finals.
The Ducks won their first Game Seven after losing home deciders the last four seasons in a row. They also came back from being down 0-2 in a series for the first time in franchise history.
“It was a very emotional game. Any Game Seven there is going to be ebbs and flows,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
Anaheim advance to the Western Conference final to play the Nashville Predators. The Ducks will host Game One tomorrow morning (Thai time) at the Honda Center.
Elsewhere, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins punched their ticket to the NHL semifinals with a 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals.
John Gibson stopped 23 of 24 shots for Anaheim as the only goal he gave up came off a defensive blunder by 21-year-old rearguard Shea Theodore.
Theodore had the puck and mistakenly turned into Gibson while trying to escape the forecheck of Drake Caggiula, who swatted Theodore’s stick sending the puck past a surprised Gibson.
The goal gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the contest but unlike Game Six this time the Ducks didn’t give up despite being down early.
Andrew Cogliano scored halfway through the second period to tie the game 1-1. Cogliano, who was a pain in the side of the Oilers all night long, scored his first goal of the 2017 postseason.
Ritchie scored the game winner at 3:21 minutes of the third when he rifled a high shot past Oiler goalkeeper Cam Talbot from the slot. Ritchie had two earlier chances in the second but failed to capitalise.
Instead of getting discouraged he said the earlier opportunities from in close helped boost his confidence.
“Sometimes when you get chances like that it helps you later if you get another chance to score,” Ritchie said.
This was the first Game Seven for the Oilers franchise in more than a decade and coach Todd McLellan said he liked the way his players competed.
“There is still a little bit of inconsistency in our game but we will grow up and fix that as we go along,” McLellan said. “We weren’t afraid of the stage. For an inexperienced team that is a good sign for us.”