Jakob Silfverberg scored his ninth goal of the playoffs 39 seconds into the second period, erasing the 2-0 lead Nashville had built early in the first period. Filip Forsberg took it back seven minutes later, but Anaheim broke through thanks to a goal by Ondrej Kase and another from Nick Ritchie to take a 4-3 lead into the third period.
Antoine Vermette’s empty netter, his first goal of the playoffs, gave the Ducks their third game of five or more goals in the playoffs.
What’s more, Anaheim solved its woes on the man advantage when Sami Vatanen scored on the power play in the first period. The power-play unit had gone without a goal in its last 21 opportunities, an ominous drought for a Stanley Cup semifinalist.
The offensive outburst helped bail out goalie John Gibson, whose inconsistency streak reared its ugly head when the Predators scored three goals on their first 13 shots. But Gibson buckled down in the second and third periods.
The Caps’ goal explosion came courtesy of stars like T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who had been criticized at times for playing short of their typically high standards. All combined for multi-point efforts and Andre Burakovsky chipped in a pair of goals to send the series back to the nation’s capital.
Of course, merely making it to a Game 7 won’t be good enough for the Capitals. The Presidents’ Trophy winners need to win it if they’re to put to rest the playoff choker label that’s consumed the franchise.
A win Wednesday and Washington would become the first team since 2010 to erase a 3-1 series deficit and advance.
The Penguins have won all three of their previous Game 7 meetings against the Caps, including in 2009, when they rode that victory to a Stanley Cup.