Game 2 Preview: Ducks vs Predators
The Anaheim Ducks say they’re ready to put a loss in the opener of the Western Conference final in the rearview mirror.
They’ll need that mindset because the Nashville Predators have spent much of the postseason with their foot on the gas and are not willing to let up now.
The Ducks will try to avoid an 0-2 hole for the second consecutive series when they face off against the Predators on Sunday night at the Honda Center.
Anaheim advanced out of the second round after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 on Wednesday night, and faced a quick turnaround two nights later against a Nashville team that hadn’t played since Sunday.
The Ducks were outshot 46-29 for the game and dropped a 3-2 decision when James Neal scored 9:24 into overtime.
“This time of year you can’t have excuses,” Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm told the Orange County Register. “You just have to go out there and play hard and win games. That’s what it’s all about. … You have to start from the get-go.”
Coach Randy Carlyle noted that the Ducks got off to a sluggish start — they were outshot 15-6 in the first period — and that cannot happen again.
“I don’t think that we can afford to have the start that we had today,” Carlyle told the newspaper. “If you took the first period, we were pretty inept in what we were doing. … We’ll turn the page on this one. Get ourselves prepared for Sunday (night).”
After sweeping the Calgary Flames in the opening round of the playoffs, the Ducks lost the first two games in their matchup with Edmonton. Nate Thompson said Anaheim should not overlook the Predators, who proved their success during this postseason is no fluke.
Nashville stunned the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks by sweeping them in the opening round before eliminating the St. Louis Blues in six games in the second round. The Predators are 9-2 in the postseason, scoring 31 goals and allowing only 16, and have won Game 1 on the road in all three series.
“They’re an aggressive team that can skate. They’re a good hockey club, and it’s going to be a tough series,” Thompson said.
The win shifted home-ice advantage to the Predators and a deeper look shows that’s bad news for Anaheim, which doesn’t want to head east in what could be a must-win situation. Nashville is 5-0 at Bridgestone Arena this postseason thanks in large part to Pekka Rinne, who’s knocked aside 141 of 147 shots for a .959 save percentage.
Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm told the NHL’s official website that the team likes the position it’s in, but can’t ease up either.
“You get some momentum right away, for sure,” Ekholm said. “It’s a nice feeling for everyone in here, for sure. And (Sunday) is going to be a lot easier. You get a smile on your face, and it’s really a good feeling.
“But we know we haven’t done nothing yet. We have to stay on for Game 2, and we know now we’ll have that home-ice advantage again. We’re really comfortable on home ice and on the road, and it’s a good feeling to get the first one.”
Facing Anaheim in the opening round last season, Nashville took the first two games in Southern California, but needed to win a seventh game to advance. The Predators lost in seven games to the San Jose Sharks in the second round.
This season, coach Peter Laviolette’s team has received goals from 15 players, led by Neal, fellow forward Filip Forsberg and defensemen Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi with four each.
“We’re just confident in our group,” forward Austin Watson told the Tennessean after his goal early in the second period of Game 1 gave the Predators a 2-1 lead. “We’ve got 20 guys in here on a nightly basis during the game that can play and contribute.”
Anaheim continues to rely mainly on Ryan Getzlaf to carry the offense and he hasn’t been up to the task recently. The Ducks’ captain has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in the postseason, but more than half — four goals and four assists — came in Games 3 through 5 against Edmonton.
The Ducks have managed five goals over their last three games.
Getzlaf is trying to avoid being held without a point in four straight playoff games for the first time since 2007 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Nashville.