Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Predators must rein in physicality as West series shifts to Nashville

Josi's power-play goal Tuesday night was Nashville's first of the Western Conference Final.

Ryan Johansen and James Neal scored for the Predators in the first-period. The Ducks are averaging 2.7 goals per game and are scoring on 18.7 percent of their power play opportunities. Anaheim's Antoine Vermette added an empty-netter with 43.6 seconds left, and Cam Fowler had two assists.

John Gibson (8-4, 2.79 GAA, .911 SV%) shook off a rough start in Game 2 to make 30 saves.

Randy Carlysle shook up his lines when the Preds jumped out to their lead... one of the moves he made was to elevate Ondrej Kase to the first line... that decision paid off as Kase got his first of the playoffs to tie the game and wrest the momentum back, which led to a Nick Ritchie goal seven minutes later. John Gibson has given up 34 goals on 382 shots faced and Jonathan Bernier has allowed four goals on 45 shots.

Anaheims Ryan Kesler was booed nearly every time he touched the puck on Tuesday night, but most of the venom during the third period was saved for referees Brad Meier and Wes McCauley, who had the audacity to disallow two Nashville goals.

"I think the guys will be fine", he said.

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That's how important depth is in the National Hockey League postseason, Kase, a 21-year-old from the Czech Republic in just his fifth career playoff game, coming through after replacing long-time Ducks staple Corey Perry. Game 3 and Game 4 are Tuesday and Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. "We think that moving him up and down in our lineup gives us some flexibility, because he's a fearless player for his size", Carlyle said of Kase.

"I mean, it just blows my mind watching". As the physical play between the two exponentially increased in the second and third periods, it pushed Johansen over the edge. "It gives us that extra boost and that extra energy that we needed". It came at a good moment, but as we touched on, if I didn't get that goal, I'm sure someone else would've. "You always try to establish your home building, tough place to play". And unless the Ducks figure out a way to shut down Nashville's top line of Johansen, Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, who played a role in all three goals, the outcome isn't going to continue in Anaheim's favour.

The overtime trend continued in the series opener between the Penguins and Senators. The two shots that beat him high blocker went through very small holes... expect a lot more shots going in that direction. "They played hard at our net, bumping our goalie all night long, and we didn't do a good enough job getting inside". J.G. Pageau scored at 14:32 of the first for Ottawa.

It appeared it would be enough to put Pittsburgh away in regulation until Malkin redirected a Chris Kunitz shot between Anderson's legs with 5:35 left in the third.

"Our players are really good at not fearing the outcome, and we play the way we play", Boucher said. “They just keep cheering and cheering. "So it's been healthy for us".

Gibson followed that up later in the year by helping Team USA win a shocking bronze at the World Championship and once again he posted incredible numbers - especially since he was still a teenager and this time playing against some of the best men in the world.

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