By: Matthew Garcia
Three nights ago the Anaheim Ducks wrapped up their seven game series against the Edmonton Oilers. With just one day of rest the Ducks were back at it last night against the Nashville Predators for game one of round three. The Predators entered last night’s game with a couple of days of rest as they dispatched of the St. Louis Blues in just six games ending their series back on Sunday. The starting goaltenders for game one were John Gibson for Anaheim and Pekka Rinne for Nashville.
All the rest for the Predators really showed right as the puck dropped as they played with the puck for nearly the first four minutes registering the game’s first six shots on net. Despite being out possessed in the first few minutes of the game it would be Jakob Silfverberg and the Ducks who would get on the board first as he would chase down a loose puck in the Nashville zone, turn and fire a shot that would find the top corner of the net to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead just five minutes into the game. The possession game would immediately turn back to Nashville and the Predators would not waste another opportunity as Filip Forsberg would re-direct a puck between the legs of Gibson and into the back of net tying the game up at one at the 12:34 mark of period one. The Predators would be the first one to go on the power play as Chris Wagner would get the gate for two minutes on a holding call at the 17:47 mark. The Ducks who are now last on the penalty kill would be going against the 2nd ranked Nashville power play, and would be up for the challenge as they would successfully kill off the power play moving to 1/1 on the penalty kill.
The Predators would get off to another quick start as this time it would be Austin Watson to find the back of the net as he would fire a shot from the blue line that would actually re-direct past Gibson and into the net off of Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen to give Nashville a 2-1 lead just 2:42 into the middle frame. The Ducks would get a chance to draw even as Colin Wilson would be sent to the box on a hooking call. The Predators would be instrumental in killing off their first penalty of the game as they would not allow many opportunities, and not give space to the Anaheim forwards to get set up in their zone. Just 34 seconds later the Ducks would get yet another opportunity to draw even as now Ryan Ellis would be sent away for two minutes due to a roughing call, this time Anaheim would get a little bit of zone time, but would be unable to solve the Predators goaltender dropping to 0/2 on the power play. The Predators would get another power play opportunity late in the period as Hampus Lindholm would be called for interference as he would attempt to set a pick to get Silfverberg some more space in the Nashville zone but would be called on it. The Ducks would not allow the Predators to get set up and clear the puck often killing off the second Nashville power play and move to 2/2 on the night in the penalty kill department.
Trailing by one the Ducks would be looking to get even early, but that would not be the case as Nick Ritchie would be sent to the box just 1:46 into the final period of play for interference. The Ducks would be successful in once again killing off the Predators power play moving to 3/3 on the night. At the 4:45 mark of the final frame Mattias Ekholm would be sent to the box on a hi-sticking call, and despite holding the zone and getting several opportunities the Ducks would continue their power play struggles and not be able to find the back of the net dropping to 0/3 on the night. But, shortly after the power play expired it would be Lindholm who would finally fire another one past Rinne to get the game back even up at two at the 7:21 mark of the third period of play. a little more than two minutes later Ryan Getzlaf would inadvertently send the puck up over the glass and out of play resulting in a delay of game penalty giving the Predators their fourth power play chance of the night, but the Ducks would not be out of deep water just yet as 33 seconds later Thompson would make the same mistake as he would clear the puck up over the glass giving the Predators a 5-3 advantage for 1:27. The Ducks would be up to the task as they would kill off the extended two-man advantage moving to 5/5 on the penalty kill. The Ducks would be the recipients of a late power play as Ryan Johansen would be penalized two minutes for slashing. The Ducks would be unsuccessful in potting a third goal late in the third period on the power play and would drop to 0/4 on the man advantage, and despite a late goal mouth scramble Rinne and the Predators would manage to keep the puck out of their net forcing overtime.
The Ducks enter the overtime session for the fourth time this post season and hold a perfect 3-0 record, and would be looking to make it 4-0 against this Predators squad. Nashville would once again continue to play their strong possession game as they would play in the Ducks zone a majority of the opening minutes of overtime, and at the 9:24 mark of the first overtime session it would be PK Subban who would fake a shot, slide a puck over to James Neal who would fire a one-timer, hit Corey Perry in front of the net and go up and over a sprawled out Gibson into the net to give the Predators the game-winning goal and a 1-0 series lead.
Final Score: Nashville-3 Anaheim-2 (OT)
John Gibson shined bright despite losing this game in overtime as he would turn aside 43-46 shots on goal and Jakob Silfverberg would continue his post-season tear as he would pot his eighth goal of the playoffs while Hampus Lindholm would pot his first goal of the post-season. If the Ducks are to take game 2 tomorrow they will need a stronger defensive performance and not give up nearly 50 shots on goal to a very dangerous Predators squad, Gibson will also need to continue his tremendous play. If the Ducks are able to combine these two pieces and have continued success from players such as Silfverberg, and Getzlaf those two will be able to help propel Anaheim into the Stanley Cup Finals.
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May 13th, 2017