The Anaheim Ducks say they're ready to put a loss in the opener of the Western Conference final in the rearview mirror.
Anaheim Ducks left wing Nick Ritchie celebrates after scoring during the third period in Game 7 of a second-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Each team executed a four-game sweep in the first round.
The Ducks won the regular season series with Nashville 2-1, winning both games in Anaheim - 6-1 on October 26 and 4-3 in a shootout March 26, while the Predators took the lone contest at Bridgestone Arena 5-0 on November 12.
James Neal scored the game-winner in overtime as the well-rested Nashville Predators sneaked past the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in overtime in the opening game of the Western Conference final.
"We're just confident in our group", Watson said. Neal then became the Predators' first repeat game-winning goal-scorer.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is scheduled to be played at Honda Center on Sunday.
The time is now for the five-time Pacific Division champion Ducks on the 10-year anniversary of their 2007 championship.
Despite the Ducks finishing 11 points clear of the Predators in the standings, there wasn't much between these teams when they met during the regular season.
"Obviously, it's a new year, new teams, (but) for some of us, it means a little bit more", Anaheim center Ryan Kesler said. "You just have to go out there and play hard and win games. It will be a tough road but we are up to the challenge". Coach Randy Carlyle noted that the Ducks got off to a sluggish start - they were outshot 15-6 in the first period - and that can not happen again. The Ducks recovered and traded blows with Nashville.
"I think we can". Ellis is the current player in that rotation as he leads the team in scoring whilst manning the blue line.
Finland's Pekka Rinne made 23 saves and the Nashville Predators reached their first Western Conference final with a 3-1 win over St. Louis in the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs on Sunday.
The Ducks have excelled with youth on the blue line. Their bottom six looked quite good in Game 1, and that even goes for oft-maligned winger Cody McLeod. Maybe it was because they were still coming off the emotional high of the Game 7 win two days earlier. But in a short, seven-game (or less) series, Anaheim will always be a cold streak, injury or inexplicable drop pass away from disaster. The Ducks will host game one on Friday at the Honda Center. "From a scheduling standpoint, that we're playing on Friday night and we just finished on Wednesday, you don't get a lot of time". It happened because the Predators won a couple of puck battles and P.K. Subban wound up for a point shot, then slid the puck over to Neal, who has one of the best one-time shots in the game.
"I think what we did in the second round was we solidified an identity of a pretty scrappy, resilient, never-die team", he said.
Having exorcized their Game 7 demons against the Edmonton Oilers, the Anaheim Ducks look to exact revenge against the team that ended their postseason hopes a year ago.
But what really could give Nashville the edge, more than anything, is if the trio of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson comes alive again this series.
"By far this is the most fun, the best year I've been a part of", said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who got his first taste of the postseason after five losing seasons in Edmonton.
Drake Caggiula scored the Edmonton goal in the first period, and Andrew Cogliano responded for the Ducks in the second period. "The things we did this year were truly awesome and we gave the fans something, that were behind for so many years, something to cheer about and the fans should be proud of themselves too, surely as the players", said Maroon. Reaching the first Western Conference final in franchise history is spreading hockey fever far beyond the arena walls and the team's loyal fans, sprouting Predators' flags on front porches with upcoming opponents televised at barbecue joints.
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