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

Predators win in OT


Using the same formula that led them to victory in the first two playoff rounds, they drew first blood in their Western Conference final series against the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville tied it at 12:34, then took the lead at 2:42 of the second. Facing Anaheim in the opening round last season, Nashville took the first two games in Southern California, but needed to win a seventh game to advance.

The Predators goalie, who had looked so hopeless on the game's first shot - granted, it was the eighth goal of the playoffs for Silfverberg - was considerably sharper on the following shots he faced.

Anaheim still rallied to force overtime on Hampus Lindholm's clutch third-period goal, but James Neal ended it for Nashville.

Both teams enter the series with sterling postseason records as Nashville is 8-2 and Anaheim 8-3. Losing at home isn't as devastating as it could be, since they're already 4-1 on the road this postseason.

"I'm anxious to get back out on the ice", Rinne said. I thought that we created a lot, and eventually we were going to get one by him. "I think they wanted it a little more tonight". It was Silfverberg's 14th career playoff goal, tying him with Paul Kariya for fourth place on the all-time franchise list. "It's a great sign for a team".

In total, Anaheim has held a lead for less than 24 minutes in the past 255 minutes of game time over its last five outings.

Having vanquished some game seven demons by eliminating the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the Ducks had just one day to recoup and get ready to play the Predators.

Neal put a long shot past a sprawled Gibson after a prolonged threat by the Predators that left Anaheim's defense in disarray.

Despite Neal scoring the winning goal, he gave full credit to Rinne for the victory.

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- There is no more sickening feeling than to flip a puck over the boards and see the referee stick his arm up in the air, as the opposing team points excitedly to the seats.

The shot was going wide but glanced off the backside of Sami Vatanen and past John Gibson. The Predators are the third team in the past 10 years to win nine consecutive playoff games on home ice, joining Pittsburgh (9-0 in 2008) and Los Angeles (9-0 in 2012-13).

Lindholm ripped a wrister off of the near-side post and past Rinne off of an offensive zone faceoff win by Nate Thompson. If they want to be physical we can be physical. "This Game 1 is important, we've got to turn the page and start off the right way".

It's an unconventional series in what has been the most unconventional Western Conference race in years. The Ducks have built their season on a remarkable resilience, but they realize they probably can't make another tardy start in Game 2 on Sunday night against Nashville, the Stanley Cup playoffs' best team so far. GIbson compared to Rinne has been plainly average. "You get some momentum right away, for sure", Ekholm said. We weren't our best, but we lost in overtime. "If you took the first period, we were pretty inept in what we were doing".

"We just stayed with it", Josi said.

The Ducks scored a goal on their first shot of Game 1, then beat Rinne just one more time the rest of the night. Whether the Ducks or Oilers were emerging from their series, Nashville knew they were going to have to go toe-to-toe with a fast-paced north and south team that can light the lamp at a moment's notice.

"It was huge", forward Austin Watson said of the game one win.

The Ducks played a strong third period and evened it when Lindholm scored his first playoff goal in 25 games since Game 1 of the 2015 Western Conference finals against Chicago. Anaheim did not dress D Kevin Bieksa, D Korbinian Holzer, RW Patrick Eaves and C Logan Shaw.

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