Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Round 3 - Game 2 - Ducks vs. Predators RECAP: Even Up

The Ducks responded with a 5-3 triumph in Game 2 to even the series, dealing the Predators their third loss in 12 postseason games.

The Predators took a 2-0 lead when Anaheim goalie John Gibson lost track of the puck and allowed Canadian Neal to get in behind him and score into an empty cage.

Antoine Vermette #50 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates his empty net goal with teammates Ryan Kesler #17 and Josh Manson #42 in the third period of Sunday's Game 2.

“Youve got to be in here to feel the energy, ” said Josi, who credited the crowd as much as Viktor Arvidsson, who set up the goal, for the assist. The inevitable power play goal followed, giving the Ducks life heading to the room after one, an early second period goal tied it up.

"Our fans, I really didn't think they could bring it to a new level, but they did tonight", said Predators defenseman Roman Josi, who scored the winning goal with 2:43 remaining. For the second straight game, Corey Perry was held without a shot on goal.

Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators, who continued their Cinderella run through the National Hockey League postseason by winning game one in Anaheim. John Gibson made 30 saves for the Ducks.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Nashville.

Josi's goal was set up by a bad penalty by the Ducks' Chris Wagner for high-sticking Ellis with 3:55 left. As the physical play between the two exponentially increased in the second and third periods, it pushed Johansen over the edge.

"I'm just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you've got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift", said Johansen, who has never met a checker who is quite so, er, handsy.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has made in-game adjustments with his line, with them often paying off.

Josi, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg combined for 20 shots on goal, matching the total of the entire Ducks roster.

The Ducks finally got the faster start they missed in the first two games in Anaheim, outshooting Nashville 8-4 to open the game.

Pittsburgh has had a distinct problem moving the puck out of their own zone in their last three games going back to the second round series against Washington, and it coincides with the injury to Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley, which leaves them without arguably their top two puck moving blue liners in addition to the already sidelined Kris Letang.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Nashville.

"Going out for the third, I think our guys stepped on the gas a little bit more", Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's a tough break, tough play. for sure, I want to have that back".

The Predators are undefeated at home during this playoffs run withTuesday's game marking their tenth consecutive postseason home game win including last year's run. "It's nearly like we feel, 'Oh, we've got nothing to lose now.' It's nearly like that's when we play our best game".

As the Predators realized, the Ducks had more than one agitator capable of knocking opponents off their game.

"He just blows my mind, watching what's going through his head out there", began Johansen. Nashville saw two goals wiped off the board for interference. They might have outscored the Ducks by only one goal, but their efforts were that of a team desperate to overwhelm with aggressiveness and persistent in attempts to capitalize on some undisciplined play by the Ducks. Ritchie released his shot just off the left half wall and even with the left circle.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Gibson is getting better as the pressure mounts. “They just keep cheering and cheering.

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