Nashville and Anaheim tied, 1-1.
The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks split their first two games at the Honda Center and now the Predators return to Nashville for games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals.
The Ducks will need to adjust their lineup after Bobby Ryan was suspended for two games on Saturday afternoon for a kicking incident that took place late in the second game on Friday night. Ryan stomped on Jon Blum’s foot while in a battle along the boards for possession of the puck.
In Game 2, Nashville fell behind 2-0 on the strength of two quick Anaheim goals on the power play. By the end of the second period, the score was 4-1 in favor of the Ducks. But the Predators battled back in the third period and came within one from tying the game. Nashville had plenty of chances but just were unable to find the equalizer before Ryan was able to get the empty net goal to guarantee the win.
Going into Game 3, the Predators top players have come through for them in the first two games. Nashville has three power play goals in two games, after scoring only once on the power play a season ago. Patric Hornqvist, who only played one game in the playoffs last season scored in Game 2. Martin Erat had four teeth knocked out of his mouth and didn’t miss a shift. He went on to assist on the next Predator goal.
The real stars of the show for Nashville thus far have been Mike Fisher and Shea Weber. Fisher’s playoff experience adds to his value for the Predators. Fisher has two goals and two assists in the first two games of the series. Fisher went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 as a member to the Ottawa Senators, but lost to the Ducks. Fisher also led the Predators forwards in ice time on Friday playing 20:13.
Weber has scored in both games in the series and added an assist on Friday. The Predators captain leads all defensemen in the playoffs in points with two goals and one assist (2 goals, 1 assist). Weber is also the Predators franchise playoff scoring leader with seven goals and an additional 8 assists.
Moving forward, the Predators have a real opportunity to take both home games and a commanding lead in a playoffs series for the first time in franchise history. In what has become a best of five series, Nashville now owns home ice advantage. The Predators also have the final line change and will get to control the match-ups for the first time this series. And then there is the matter of playing at home itself. The Predators traditionally dominate on home ice.
All of the positives coming out of the first two road games will be lost, however, if the Predators cannot stay out of the box. Nashville needs to resist the urge to retaliate on the physicality of the Ducks. Empty net goal aside, the Ducks have scored five goals on Pekka Rinne, three have come on the power play — two of those three were 5-on-3 man advantage goals. Only two goals were even strength, and one of those even strength goals came seconds after a Predators penalty expired, thus essentially being a 3rd power play goal out of five tallies.
Nashville is scoring on the power play and at even strength. Stay disciplined and the series is Nashville’s to lose.
Game time is 5 pm Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. Very few tickets remain for sale. The game will be sold out, so head over to Ticketmaster now.
Photo Credit: AP
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