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article imageDucks subdue plucky Flames, Rangers force Game Seven

By Mark J. Allan     May 11, 2015 in Sports
The NHL's Western Conference champion Anaheim Ducks eliminated the determined Calgary Flames 3-2 Sunday and the Eastern champion New York Rangers won 4-3 to force one more game with the Washington Capitals.
When the Anaheim Ducks subdued the Calgary Flames 3-2 in overtime Sunday night, the NHL quarter-finals reached the halfway point in a manner of speaking.
In the only way that really matters in the win-or-go-home hockey post-season, half of the four second-round series are over.
After the Chicago Blackhawks surprisingly swept the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in their best-of-seven series, the Ducks knocked out the pesky Flames 4-1.
The New York Rangers, once down 3-1 to the Washington Capitals, evened things at three wins each with a nail-biting 4-3 victory earlier Sunday. With a 2-1 triumph Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens have stubbornly won two straight in their uphill quest to stay alive after losing three in a row to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ducks 3 Flames 2 OT
Post-season scoring leader Corey Perry finished the underdog Flames by beating beleaguered Calgary netminder Karri Ramo at 2:26 of overtime.
Anaheim, which outshot visiting Calgary 47-19, also got goals from Matt Beleskey and Ryan Kesler. The Ducks overwhelmed the willing but outgunned Flames with seven shots on goal in less than two and half minutes of extra time.
Jiri Hudler and speedy rookie Johnny Gaudreau scored for Calgary, which led 2-1. The Ducks, who led the league in wins when trailing entering the third period, would not be denied.
Although Perry has 15 points and linemate Ryan Getzlaf is tied for third among playoff leaders with 12, Anaheim was led in the second round by its second line of Ryan Kesler between Matt Beleskey and Jacob Silfverberg. Silfverberg is tied for fifth in post-season scoring and Kesler is 10th in points. Beleskey, who scored 22 times in the regular season, had a goal in each of the five games with Calgary.
After relieving former Duck Jonas Hiller in Game One, Ramo brilliantly did his best to keep the Flames in each of the next four games. Less-busy counterpart Frederik Andersen was good enough for Anaheim.
The Ducks’ shot-on-goal total would have been higher in the final game except Calgary blocked 27 shots, nine by regular-season league-leader Kris Russell and six by blueline partner Dennis Wideman.
Anaheim, which led the West with 109 points, will meet fourth-place Chicago (102 points) in the conference final.
Rangers 4 Capitals 3
Led by two first-period goals from young but already-proven playoff performer Chris Kreider, New York hung on after almost squandering a three-goal lead.
With 16 playoff goals at the age of 24, Kreider keeps adding to his reputation as a post-season gunner.
Rick Nash added his first goal of the series and Dan Boyle scored what became the winner.
Jason Chimera, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward replied for Washington, which has yet to get a goal from superstar sniper Alex Ovechkin in the series. The scores by Kuznetsov and Ward on Henrik Lundqvist within three minutes in the third period shockingly brought the host Caps within a goal.
After falling behind 4-1, Braden Holtby kept Washington in the game as he continues to make a case to join the elite company occupied by the likes of Lundqvist.
Including all 11 games this post-season, the Rangers have played in 13 consecutive playoff games decided by one goal. That is the longest such streak in Stanley Cup playoff history.
The Caps visit Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Washington has lost all four previous Game Sevens after it has led a series 3-1. New coach Barry Trotz’s increased emphasis on defense and more balanced playing style will be put to the test.
With King Henrik in goal, the Rangers have won nine straight home playoff games when facing elimination. New York disposed of Washington in 2012 and 2013.
The winner Wednesday will meet Tampa Bay or Montreal in the Eastern Conference final. The Habs, who finished two points ahead of the Lightning in the East during the regular season, but lost all five head-to-head games, will visit Tampa on Tuesday, trying to force a seventh and deciding game.
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