Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Johansen and Kesler take spotlight in Western Conference Final


Game 3 and Game 4 are Tuesday and Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.

At least the fans had Southern California's murderous Friday afternoon traffic as a good excuse.

The Ottawa Senators took a stunning 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the reigning and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins with a 2-1 OT victory in Game 1.

"To start the game, it didn't feel like the conference finals, to be honest", Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said Saturday after a short practice at the Ducks' training rink. "He thinks he's getting under guys' skin, but I don't know what he's doing".

But the deciding shot was merely the icing on the cake for the surging home team, which relentlessly pressed Anaheim during the course of Game 3. The Ducks have won three of five meetings with Nashville this season.

The Nashville Predators have yet to lose a home game in the playoffs, which means they haven't lost at home since April 4.

The Ducks do nearly nothing easily.

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After two Predators' goals were waved off due to goalie interference, Nashville was determined to make the last one stick. "It's not that we didn't show up and play hard, or we weren't ready to compete or ... we played good teams".

"Obviously, it seemed like he was a bit rattled, so I'm going to go out and play my game like I always do", Kesler said.

For the Preds to keep their momentum alive, they'll need to find a way to translate their dominating pace - the same one that saw them fly past the Chicago Blackhawks two series ago - into. well, more goals.

Josi's game-winner was his fifth goal of the playoffs, three have come in the third period. But try explaining that to a sold-out crowd, who chanted, “Refs, you suck!” and littered the ice with bright yellow rally towels after two goals were disallowed less than 10 seconds apart. Ottawa got outstanding goaltending from Craig Anderson who has played two fantastic games in net for them in a row, going back to the close out game against the New York Rangers in the second round. I think they will continue to look like the better team now that they are at home. While Neal scored the victor, he was only open to score on P.K. Subban's pass because the defenceman froze the entire Anaheim defence with a picture-perfect shot fake.

Things got chippy as the teams established a level of hatred one would expect with a conference final.

While the injury-riddled Ducks are attempting to thrive with six defencemen under 26 years old, Nashville's top four defencemen are the high-scoring backbone of its roster.

How it happened: In the franchise's first home game in the conference finals, Nashville nearly played second fiddle to Gibson. Heading into Tuesday night, he had a.964 third-period save percentage.

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