#6 Anaheim Ducksvs.#5 Nashville Predators
Written by Valdis Pans
Nashville Predators (50-31-8-4) vs. Anaheim Ducks (54-26-11-3)
When: 7:30 PM ET, Sunday, May 14, 2017
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, California
Lines: Nashville -105 / Anaheim -115
After completing a hat trick of Game 1 wins during the current post-season, the Nashville Predators will remain in Anaheim for the following fixture in the Western Conference Final against the Ducks…
Playing their first game since Sunday’s Second Round clincher against the St. Louis Blues, the Nashville Predators (50-31-12) continued their excellent post-season form with the third Game 1 victory and their ninth overall win (9-2) during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs while visiting the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Friday. The Preds outshot the hosts 46-29 during their first ever final, claiming a 3-2 triumph, with James Neal (23 goals, 40 points in 69 post-season contests) stealing the game with a strike 9:24 minutes into overtime. It was the 29-year-old’s third goal in the past four outings.
Filip Forsberg (10 goals, 19 points in 31 playoff fixtures) and Austin Watson (1 goal, 3 points in 11 post-season contributions) also got off the mark, while Ryan Johansen (8 goals, 25 points in 31 playoff games) and Mattias Ekholm (4 goals, 13 points in 31 post-season appearances) registered two assists each. Goalie Pekka Rinne, who is 31-28 in his past playoff outings combined with a 2.32 GAA and a .919 save percentage, made 27 stops. He is 9-2 during the current post-season, still leading all netminders, who have featured in at least two full contests, in GAA (1.41) and save percentage (.950). The Preds, meanwhile, are netting the 5th highest quantity of goals per matchup during the ongoing playoffs (2.82), conceding the absolute lowest amount defensively (1.45). They are 8th in power play with a 16.7% success rate (5-for-30) and rank 4th best in penalty kill with 89.3% efficiency (25-for-28).
The Anaheim Ducks (54-26-14) dropped their second consecutive Game 1 matchup on own ice during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Friday. Despite being outshot 13-1 in the opening 13 minutes of the contest, the hosts managed to score from their first shot, with Jakob Silfverberg (16 goals, 41 points in 60 post-season outings) burying the puck 5:15 minutes into the first period. Despite coming into the fixture with the 2nd worst penalty kill of the playoffs (69.0%), the Ducks also managed to kill 1:28 minutes of a 5-on-3 power play, but went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage themselves. They have now wasted 21 consecutive power play opportunities, stretching back to Game 2 in the Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers.
Hampus Lindholm (3 goals, 19 points in 46 post-season contests) scored the 2-2 equalizer in the third period, finding the back of the net for the first time in 25 playoff fixtures since 2015, when he netted against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Goalie John Gibson, who is 9-8 in his past post-season escapades with a 2.80 GAA and a .912 save percentage, made an NHL career-high 43 saves, taking his current playoff tally to 7-4 with a 2.78 GAA and a .911 save percentage. The Ducks, meanwhile, are 2nd in most goals scored per game during the ongoing post-season (3.08), 4th in most goals allowed on average (3.00), 3rd worst in power play with a 12.5% turnaround (5-for-40) and 3rd worst in penalty kill with 72.3% expertise (34-for-47).
The Predators continue to impress during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. So, the jaded Ducks are very likely to find themselves in even bigger trouble when the action switches to the Music City for Games 3 and 4. They should, however, be able to even the series in Game 2, having finished the regular season with the 3rd best performance total on own ice in the league (29-8-4). Despite registering just one victory against the Preds in Anaheim during the last six post-season meetings, the Ducks still have three wins against Nashville in the last five overall contests at Honda Center, with one of the defeats coming in overtime (Friday’s Game 1), the other being a close 2-1 loss in Game 7 of the First Round last year, when the Ducks outshot the visitors almost by a double (37-20)…
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Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray’s shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members’ birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...