Hockey

Ducks, Penguins win to advance to conference finals

Nick Ritchie scored the game winner and the Anaheim Ducks ended a game seven jinx by beating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 Wednesday to book their spot in the NHL Conference finals.

Nick Ritchie of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates scoring the go-ahead goal against the Edmonton Oilers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round © (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

Nick Ritchie of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates scoring the go-ahead goal against the Edmonton Oilers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round © (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

Nick Ritchie scored the game winner and the Anaheim Ducks ended a game seven jinx by beating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 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 advances to the Western Conference final to play the Nashville Predators. The Ducks will host game one on Friday at the Honda Center.

Elsewhere, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins punched their ticket to the NHL semi-finals 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.

Goaltender John Gibson and Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks defend against Patrick Maroon of the Edmonton Oilers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round

Goaltender John Gibson and Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks defend against Patrick Maroon of the Edmonton Oilers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round (© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

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 of the third when he rifled a high shot past Oiler goalkeeper Cam Talbot from the slot. Ritchie had two earlier chances from in close in the second but failed to capitalize.

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."

Crosby's bragging rights

In Washington the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins continued their playoff domination of the Capitals, winning the second round series in the seventh and deciding game

In Washington the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins continued their playoff domination of the Capitals, winning the second round series in the seventh and deciding game (© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

In Washington, the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins continued their playoff domination of Alex Ovechkin's Capitals, winning the second round series in the seventh and deciding game.

Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist also scored goals on Wednesday for Pittsburgh who will face the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference finals.

Rust made it 1-0 midway through the second period, and Hornqvist doubled the lead early in the third.

"We expected them to come out hard, but we knew we had to be a little more aggressive tonight than we were in the last couple of games," Crosby said.

Pittsburgh eliminated the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals in the second round for the second season in a row, and the Penguins have won nine of 10 postseason series between the teams. During that time, Pittsburgh is 4-0 in game sevens.

The Penguins are now 3-0 against the Capitals in series played during the Crosby-Ovechkin era. The previous two times the Penguins eliminated the Capitals, they went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Fleury earned his ninth career playoff shutout, while Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots for Washington.