Predators eliminate Blues, advance to 1st conference final

It was the second marker of the playoffs for Johansen, who took Viktor Arvidsson’s feed in the slot, deked from forehand to backhand and beat Jake Allen for the biggest goal in Predators’ history, giving the home side a 2-1 advantage.

Calle Jarnkrok sealed it with an empty-net marker at 19:00, making him Nashville’s 14th different goal-scorer of the playoffs.

Goalie Pekka Rinne and the Predators’ defense made the lead stick. Rinne made 23 saves, none bigger than his pad stop on Kyle Brodziak at the goalmouth about halfway through the third period. Rinne has permitted just 14 goals in 10 games in the playoffs.

St. Louis, which controlled play for most of Friday night’s 2-1 win in Game 5, replicated that formula at the start of this one. Paul Stastny initiated scoring at 2:04 of the first period, poking home the rebound of a Vladimir Tarasenko shot for his second goal of the playoffs.

The Blues put seven shots on Rinne in the first 3:20 and limited the Predators to five shots on net in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead to the locker room.

But Nashville needed just 35 seconds of the second period to equalize. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm teed up Roman Josi with a cross-ice pass at the right circle and Josi snapped a wrister by Allen for his fourth postseason tally.

Allen didn’t see many shots on net, with just 15 saves, but made three stops on breakaways by Filip Forsberg, Austin Watson and Colton Sissons in the third period to keep St. Louis in contention.

Oilers dominate Ducks to force Game 7

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers finally built enough of a lead that the Anaheim Ducks couldn’t recover.

After blowing a 2-0 advantage in Game 4 and 3-0 lead late in the third period in Game 5, the Oilers came out flying, scoring five first-period goals en route to a 7-1 win on Sunday in Game 6 of a Western Conference semifinal series.

Edmonton evened the series and forced a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday in Anaheim. The winner will face the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference finals.

Ducks killer Leon Draisaitl, who now has 20 points against Anaheim in 11 regular-season and playoff games in 2016-17, paced the attack with a hat trick plus two assists. Mark Letestu also had two goals and two assists.

By the 8:25 mark of the first period, Ducks starting goalie John Gibson was yanked after giving up three goals — two from Draisaitl, one from Zack Kassian — all through his legs.

Draisaitl gave the Oilers the lead at 2:45. He came in on a break and was hooked from behind by Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm. The hook forced Draisaitl to fan on his shot, but the resulting change-up fooled Gibson and slid under his stick.

Draisaitl struck again at 7:22, taking a pass from Milan Lucic, spinning, then sliding a backhand through Gibson.

Kassian made it 3-0 just 1:03 after Draisaitl’s second goal.

Backup Anaheim goalie Jonathan Bernier didn’t fare much better, as Letestu beat him twice before the period ended, the first at 11:39 and the second on the power play at 18:49 to increase the margin to 5-0.

The Oilers didn’t show mercy in the second period, with Anton Slepyshev scoring just 45 seconds in on a feed from Patrick Maroon.

Rickard Rakell got one for the Ducks at 8:56.

Draisaitl’s third goal, a power-play marker at 4:33, spurred a shower of caps, toques and other hats from the stands.

The Oilers were without two minute-chewing defensemen. Andrej Sekera, who took a hard hit from Ryan Getzlaf in Game 5, was ruled out for the series. Oscar Klefbom, who hadn’t missed a game this year, gave it a try in warm-ups but couldn’t go.

With Klefbom and Sekera gone, Eric Gryba, who hadn’t played since Game 1 of the first round, and call-up Griffin Reinhart were dressed.

In a game in which the Oilers offense exploded, Connor McDavid — the league’s leading scorer in the regular season — was held without a point.