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

Predators top Ducks in overtime in Game 1 of Western Conference Finals

Predators top Ducks in overtime in Game 1 of Western Conference Finals

The Anaheim Ducks are just four wins away from making it back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Their fortune changed Wednesday when, trailing 1-0 to the Oilers, Anaheim took control of the game and the series to get back into the Conference Finals. Game 1 is Friday night in Anaheim. These two teams faced each other previous year, and with the Ducks up 3-2, they couldn't close the deal, losing in Game 7.

James Neal scored 9:24 into the overtime period to lift Nashville to a 3-2 victory over Anaheim in the first game of their Western Conference final on Friday.

"We were down in the Ducks zone and Subby got it over to me, " Neal said after the game. Anaheim peppered 29 shots on the Predators goalie in total, and he stopped them all but two of them to earn his ninth win of the playoffs.

The conference final is set to begin on Friday in Anaheim, with the first two games being played at Honda Center, before Games Three, Four and Six* (*if necessary) will be at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. If the Ducks get past the Predators defense they'll need to figure out a way to get past Rinne. "To us, winning this series means a little bit more".

"They came and they took it to us in the first period", Thompson said. In both playoff series, the Ducks won on the back of their captain.

"If you look at any team that has won the Stanley Cup, they start out with a disappointment".

This was the first game seven for the Oilers franchise in more than a decade and coach Todd McLellan said he liked the way his players competed.

That said, the Ducks seem scattered at times, with no real substance or consistency to their style of play. They're 0 for 21 with the man advantage since late in Game 2 against Edmonton on April 28.

"We battled hard up and down the line-up", McDavid, the Oilers' captain, said. This postseason, the Predators have enjoyed 30 points from its defensemen. Although the spotlight is now on Ellis, keep an eye on the rest of the blue line.

The 2011 NHL MVP managed only 19 goals during the lowest-scoring full regular season of his career, but he has surged while reunited with Getzlaf in the playoffs.

It's been a roller-coaster ride for the Ducks' John Gibson, who has already been yanked twice in 11 playoff starts this spring, only to rebound the following game to lead Anaheim to series-clinching victories.

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That same Sunday, Edmonton thrashed Anaheim to the tune of a 7-1 blowout.

The now-familiar ominous hush fell over Honda Center, but the Ducks got going in an unlikely scenario.

At that point, this became a game the Ducks could legitimately win, but it didn't play out that way. I don't think anyone would have believed us for a second.

Rinne is huge, but his mobility and puck-handling skills make him even more daunting.

Gibson made possibly his biggest save of the night by sliding across his crease to stone Roman Josi's blast from the face off dot with the Predators on a two-man advantage in the third, keeping it a 2-1 score.

Staying within striking distance gave Anaheim the confidence to respond.

This series is the sort that I think the Ducks will actually sorely miss Patrick Eaves.

While Rinne appears to be at the peak of his skills again, his counterpart still has something to prove.

The Predators drew even on a redirection by Filip Forsberg.

In eliminating the San Jose Sharks in six and taking the Anaheim Ducks to seven, the Oilers showed anyone who didn't already know it that they are more than a one-man show. And their offense is just far too top-heavy for my liking.

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were major reasons the Ducks were able to buckle down and edge the upstart Oilers. Johansen is the big center the Predators brought in with their first big trade of 2016, lost in all the attention focused on the acquisition of defenseman P.K. Subban.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead on Watson's first goal of the postseason at 2:42 of the second period.

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