ANAHEIM, Calif. (WKRN) – Despite playing without two of their top three centers, the Nashville Predators skated out of Anaheim with a 3-1 Game 5 victory Saturday night in the Western Conference Final.
With 9:00 to play, Filip Forsberg fired on Jonathan Bernier and Pontus Aberg was there for the go-ahead goal – and a 2-1 Nashville lead. It was Aberg’s first career playoff goal and he was skating on the first line in place of the injured Ryan Johansen.
Johansen is out for the remainder of the playoffs after having surgery on his left thigh Thursday night. The Predators also played without captain Mike Fisher – who left Game 4 after taking a blow to the head.
Austin Watson added an empty netter in the closing seconds for the insurance goal, 3-1. It was his second goal of the playoffs.
Despite playing shorthanded, the 1st period was a draw with both teams failing to score on 10 shots.
Both teams found the back of the net in the 2nd period, though. It was Anaheim striking first when Chris Wagner buried a rebound past Pekka Rinne for his 2nd playoff goal and a 1-0 lead.
Late in the second period, Filip Forsberg drew a high stick on Josh Manson. The Predators pounced on the opportunity when Colin Wilson scored his second goal of the post season to tie it up at 1-1. It was Wilson’s 13th career playoff goal – tying for most in Predator history.
The Predators can close out the series Monday night at Bridgestone Arena when they host Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. They lead the series 3-2.
The screams and chants filled the streets of downtown Nashville after the Predators scored the winning goal Saturday night.
Fans gathered to watch the game on a big screen in the plaza despite the rain.
One fan told News 2 the rainy weather was just an excuse to buy new Preds gear.
“We just we went through several ponchos we bought, [so it’s] an excuse to buy new Predators stuff and you know rain just wasn’t going to stop us tonight we knew we were going to win it here in Smashville, take it to the cup,” Gail Harris said.
The hometown team is now just one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.