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WCQF Game 2: Predators Try To Take Control Of Series Friday Night

Series Record

Nashville Predators lead Anaheim Ducks 1-0

Kostitsyn did not practice on Thursday

Nashville’s 4-1 win in Anaheim on Wednesday night was just the second road game the Predators have ever won in the postseason. Last year, Nashville took a 1-0 series lead in Chicago only to lose the first round in six games.

The Predators try to make franchise history when they attempt to take the first two games of their series, allowing the Predators to come back to Bridgestone Arena with a 2-0 series lead.

Coming home up 2-0 would be huge for a couple of reasons. First, David Boclair points out in The City Paper, the winner of game 2 of the opening round has gone on to win the series 70% of the time since 2006, regardless of the results from game one.  In their previous five trips to the post-season, the Predators have never won game two.

Second, Nashville owns home ice. With less than 10 regulation losses at home during the regular season, the Predators join an elite group of teams (Vancouver and Washington) that can boast that strong of play at home.

After the 4-1 loss, the Ducks will be making some changes going into Friday night’s game. The first change will likely be in goal.

In the battle between former Predator Dan Ellis and current standout netminder Pekka Rinne, Nashville’s Rinne was near perfect allowing only one goal, scored by Teemu Selanne during a 5-on-3 power play. With a 1.02 goals against average and a save percentage of .964 in game one, Rinne showed once again why he is not only a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, but could also be considered a Hart Trophy candidate as well.

Ellis was chased from the net after allowing 4 goals, leaving the game early in the third period with a 5.85 goals against average and a .833 save percentage.

Ellis is unlikely to start game two on Friday night. Instead, the Ducks will try Ray Emery against the Predators.

The Ducks will also need to better control match-ups while they have the opportunity to do so at home. At some points during the game on Wednesday, Bobby Ryan was taken off the top line to play on the third line for a more balanced attack. While the strategy didn’t work, the Ducks will need to try to separate their big guns from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. During the regular season, it wasn’t the top line that scored against Nashville, it was the second line. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne accounted for 6 of 11 Ducks goals against Nashville.

Speaking of big guns, Corey Perry will need to keep his cool if the Ducks are going to even things up. Perry does his team no good if he is sitting in the box. Spearing Rinne openly shows his frustration, frustration that Nashville wants to prolong on Friday night.

The entire Ducks team will probably be watched closely after the ending of Wednesday’s  game. If the NHL wants to avoid allowing teams to send messages for the next game, then the three 10 minute misconducts handed out at the end of regulation should raise put officials on alert.

Colin Wilson and JP Dumont were the Predators healthy scratches on Wednesday. Wilson was scratched to make room for Steve Sullivan. Sullivan, who returned after being sidelined since the end of February. But will the lineup remain the same for game two?  Sergei Kostitsyn did not practice on Thursday. Kostitsyn took the brunt of some physical hits on Wednesday night. Losing the Belarusian in the lineup would be significant. Kostitsyn is on a line with Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher, who scored two goals on Wednesday night.

Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin did not practice for the Ducks.

Game two starts at 9:30 pm CT. Game three sees the Predators returning to Nashville for a game Sunday afternoon at 5 pm at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available for Sunday and next Wednesday’s games in Nashville, though they are selling fast.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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