While Nashville was rocking and rolling to a berth in the Western Conference Final, the Anaheim Ducks were getting trounced by the Oilers.
Having vanquished some game seven demons by eliminating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the Ducks had just one day to recoup and get ready to play the Predators. Maybe it was because they were still coming off the emotional high of the Game 7 win two days earlier. That's not exactly how it happened, though.
The Ducks were outshot 46-29 for the game and dropped a 3-2 decision when James Neal scored 9:24 into overtime. That's what ultimately matters.
Game 2 comes on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Their start included the game's first five shots on goal, but Anaheim's first shot on net ended up in the net, when Jakob Silfverberg's wrist shot surprised Rinne to the far side.
Nashville Predators center Filip Forsberg scores past Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson during the first period of Game 1 in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals, Friday, May 12, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. They won't make too many mistakes because Anaheim does not know how to exploit them just yet. This could come into play down the road and Anaheim seemed to be aware of it and trying to split them up the middle with a long pass. And yet, what we saw in a back-and-forth Game 1 was encouraging for what promises to be an exciting and evenly matched series.
This matchup will likely be closer in style to the Predators grinding victory over the St. Louis Blues than the up-tempo style that was the norm in Anaheim's win over Edmonton. Also, the Ducks only had possession 45% of the time during the game to their opponents 55% of the time. In overtime, it was right there for the taking. This Nashville Predators team is no ordinary Cinderella though, and they're probably the only team left that is better defensively than the Ducks. "We understand that if you take your foot off the gas, you probably won't like the result". But Sunday we'll regroup.
In order to pull that off, Anaheim will likely have to remedy the power play.
Defenseman P.K. Subban faked a shot from the left point before sliding the puck over to Neal, who wasted no time blasting a slapshot that deflected off Anaheim forward Corey Perry into the net. Converting on just one of those opportunities could have changed the outcome entirely. As the Toronto Maple Leafs go into the offseason looking to improve the defence, but understand it will be tough to find quality players on other teams. That easily bested Nashville's mark of 2.80 goals per game, but there's a reason the Predators didn't have to come up with as many goals - they weren't letting any in.
That will need to be fixed in a hurry. San Jose signed forwards Melker Karlsson (three years) and Joonas Donskoi (two years). Winning the special teams battle will become vital.
Silfverberg scored again in Game 1 against the Predators, which gives him 35 points over his past 35 playoff games dating back to 2015. Though it's considered blasphemy to say so, McDavid was a non-factor in the series, due in large part to the tenacious checking of Kesler. Ideally, they'll be able to drag this series out and wear the Preds down.
Anaheim tied the game at 2 on Lindholm's first goal of the playoffs at 7:22 of the third period to force overtime. "Rinne loves to handle the puck and if you do not dump the puck in effectively he is going to be another defenseman back there". But in the playoffs, it can sometimes feel like an eternity.
- Senators Say Deputy AG Knew Comey Would Be Fired Before Memo
- Louisiana State Police to hold annual memorial ceremonies for National Police Week
- Ryan says no rush to judgement on Comey firing
- Rising Pune Supergiant make their first IPL final
- Government activates mechanism to prevent cyber attack
- 'High possibility' of conflict with North
- Irish PM announces resignation as party leader
- Titans linemen chug beer to hype Predators fans in Game 3
- Trump denies asking Comey to end Flynn investigation
- President Trump says special counsel in Russian Federation investigation 'divides the country'