Preds rally, beat Ducks 2-1 to take 2-1 Western finals lead
By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The Nashville Predators are so confident right now that not even having two goals in eight seconds waved off for goaltender interference can shake them.
Especially not on home ice.
Roman Josi scored a power-play goal with 2:43 left, and the Predators rallied to beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 Tuesday in their first-ever home game in the Western Conference finals.
The Predators grabbed a 2-1 lead in the series with their 10th straight home win in the postseason going back to last season. The Predators are the first NHL team to win 10 straight playoff games at home since Detroit in 1997-98.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm said the team feels comfortable on home ice.
“That’s really it,” Ekholm said. “Our fans, I really didn’t think they could bring it to a new level, but I really thought they did tonight. It helps us so much, especially with those two goals.
“We have our fans standing up the whole third period literally and cheering us on. It gives us that extra boost and that extra energy that we needed.”
Filip Forsberg tied it up at 3:54 of the third as the Predators rallied for the win against an Anaheim team that has notched four comeback victories already when trailing by multiple goals this postseason.
Both goals were waved off within three minutes of Forsberg’s goal, but the Predators kept pressing with Josi scoring Nashville’s first power-play goal of the series for the win.
“Going out for the third, I think our guys stepped on the gas a little bit more,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.
Ducks goalie John Gibson made 38 saves, and Corey Perry scored a power-play goal in the second period for Anaheim.
“Gibby played well for us,” Perry said. “He kept us in that game.”
Game 4 is Thursday in Nashville.
Forsberg tied it up with his third goal in as many games. When officials first waved off a would-be goal by Colton Sissons at 6:25 and then Ryan Johansen’s goal at 6:33, fans started tossing towels onto the ice.
Chris Wagner went to the box for high-sticking Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis with 3:55 left in the Ducks’ offensive zone.
Nashville had been 0 of 11 on the power play in this series. Josi ended that drought with his wrister from the right circle off an assist from Viktor Arvidsson.
Nashville, 10-3 this postseason, has yet to lose consecutive games.
“We’re a confident team,” Josi said. “We know what we can do in the room … Nobody panicked. We knew we played a good game, and we had a lot of chances, a lot of shots. We need to play the same way, and they’re going to go in some time.”
The Predators didn’t hold back on star power for the biggest game in franchise history.
Keith Urban performed the national anthem, the latest country star to take a turn, and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, joined him in the stands decked out in her own Predators’ sweater.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota waved the rally towel along with his offensive linemen from the band stage. Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan held up a big catfish, and Urban later was shown on the video board holding up a big catfish. It’s Nashville’s answer to the octopus Detroit fans traditionally throw on the ice for good luck.
The Ducks finally got the faster start they missed in the first two games in Anaheim, outshooting Nashville 8-4 to open the game.
But the Predators took the next 11 shots and outshot Anaheim 40-20 for the game.
“We didn’t play anywhere near where we’re capable of playing,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “And we received the game a lot. But we still had a chance. And that’s the most encouraging part, because we can play better than what we played tonight. We know that.”
The Predators held the Ducks without a shot throughout the second period until 8:12 left when Brandon Montour put a backhand on Rinne, a puck that went across the goal line.
But the net came off its moorings at the same time with Ekholm crashing into it. Referee Brad Meier immediately waved off the goal, which was upheld on review.
Anaheim got the man advantage after Predators forward Cody McLeod fought Jared Boll of the Ducks, upset at a hard hit on teammate Harry Zolnierczyk. That earned McLeod an instigator penalty along with a game misconduct. Perry then squeezed a wrister past Rinne from a severe angle to the right of the net.
Notes: Perry tied Teemu Selanne (35) for the second-most playoff goals in franchise history. … Josi and Ellis each had a point, giving them each 10 points this postseason, a Nashville record for defensemen. … Toronto coach Mike Babcock was spotted at the game.
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