NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Bieksa was taking the long view.
“We’re just here trying to sell the game,” he explained. “Trying to provide a little entertainment.”
What Bieksa and the Ducks and Predators are doing, through four games of the Western Conference Finals, goes beyond plot and exposition.
They aren’t writing a novel with sequential chapters. They are putting together an anthology of free-standing short stories, none of them connected.
Heroes (P.K. Subban firing in the first Nashville goal) become losers (P.K. Subban accidentally tapping in Corey Perry’s game-winner in overtime) in a matter of minutes.
Goalies show safecracker hands one night, lose sight of pucks the next.
It’s almost like the Ducks and Predators are on an involuntary ride, and each game takes each team where it will.
On Thursday night it took the Ducks from solid accomplishment to unthinkable danger and finally to reprieve.
They had ruled this game 2-0, could have made it 5-0, and then watched the house of cards collapse in a penalty-plagued third period.
Filip Forsberg, who has scored a goal in each of the four games, did it again with 34.5 seconds left, as the Ducks couldn’t find an empty net on the other end.
Josh Manson, who played warrior hockey all night, iced the puck to set all that up, but also sustained an apparent cross-check from Ryan Johansen, just as Forsberg came to the net.
The Ducks were shorthanded — either 3-on-5, 4-on-5 or 5-on-6 — for 7:25 in that period. They survived. Then they had to go out and do it again.
“You can’t say enough about the mindset of the team,” Bieksa said. “We come in after the third period and it’s just calm, get back to business, don’t panic and let’s play our game.
“Sure, the penalties are not ideal, but it’s part of the game, right? Sticks get up sometimes. Heads snap back, unfortunately. But we did a good job killing the 5 on 3 and even after the goal we managed to get the job done.”