#51 Anaheim Ducksvs.#52 Nashville Predators
Tuesday, May 5 2017, at 8:00pm EDT
Written by Valdis Pans
Anaheim Ducks (55-26-11-3) vs. Nashville Predators (50-32-8-4)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Lines: Anaheim +130 / Nashville -150
With the Western Conference Final tied at 1-1 after the first two outings in Anaheim, the Predators will be hosting the Ducks for the next two fixtures in Nashville…
After losing Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators on Friday, the Anaheim Ducks (55-26-14) did enough to tie the series 1-1 at Honda Center just two days later. Bouncing back from a two-goal deficit in the first period with a three-goal performance in the second, the Ducks came out eventual 5-3 winners, claiming their ninth victory in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and their fourth when trailing by two or more goals. Sami Vatanen (5 markers, 18 points in 36 post-season contests) cut Nashville’s initial 2-0 lead in half with just one minute remaining in the opening frame with a power-play strike, thus snapping Anaheim’s 0-for-21 run during the man-advantage. Jakob Silfverberg (17 goals, 42 points in 61 playoff outings) netted the 2-2 equalizer, grabbing his ninth marker in the last 13 post-season fixtures after netting eight times in 48 prior playoff appearances.
Ondrej Kase (1 goal, 1 point in 5 post-season matchups) and Nick Ritchie (3 goals, 3 points in 11 playoff contributions) were also on the score-sheet in the second period. Antoine Vermette (14 goals, 27 points in 91 post-season games) grabbed an empty-netter 46 seconds from time, while Ryan Getzlaf (37 goals, 117 points in 117 playoff matchups) registered three assists, thus ending a three-game point-drought. Goalie John Gibson (10-8 in his post-season career with a 2.81 GAA and a .911 save percentage) made 30 saves and has now gone 8-4 for the current playoff campaign with a 2.79 GAA and a .911 save percentage. The Ducks, meanwhile, are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins in most goals scored per contests during the ongoing post-season (3.23), giving up the 4th highest amount defensively (3.00). They are 13th in power play with a 14.3% return (6-for-42) and rank 3rd from the bottom in penalty kill with 74.0% efficiency (37-for-50).
The Nashville Predators (50-32-12), the ultimate in-form team of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, looked like it had finally found its match in the last two periods of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Sunday. After once again dominating the whole opening period, taking a 2-0 lead within the first eight-and-a-half minutes, the Preds finally let their guard down somewhat after the Ducks managed to deliver on power play at the very end of the first frame. Despite outshooting the hosts 33-27 throughout the whole contest, Nashville mustered just one further marker in the remaining two sections of the game, taking a 3-2 lead in the second period through Filip Forsberg (11 snipes, 20 points in 32 post-season fixtures), whose goal was followed by two second-period strikes and an empty-netter at the end of the contest by the Ducks.
Ryan Johansen (9 goals, 27 points in 32 playoff outings) and James Neal (24 goals, 41 points in 70 post-season matchups) scored the opening pair of goals, with Viktor Arvidsson (3 goals, 9 points in 26 playoff appearances) notching up two assists. Goalie Pekka Rinne, who has gone 31-29 with a 2.34 GAA and a .918 save percentage in previous post-season contests, made 22 saves, allowing four goals in a game for the first time since Mar. 13. He is 9-3 for the current playoffs with a 1.62 GAA, a .942 save percentage and two shutouts. The Predators, meanwhile, are 3rd in most goals netted per fixture during the ongoing post-season (2.83), 1st in least goals given up on average (1.75), 11th in power play with a 15.2% success rate (5-for-33) and 7th in penalty kill with 86.7% capability (26-for-30).
The Predators have been playing some terrific hockey lately and have been in top form on own ice, going 10-1-1 in their last 12 overall home outings while cruising on nine consecutive home wins in the playoffs, stretching back to last year. The only team, that has beaten the Preds in the last 13 post-season contests in Nashville (11-2), is, in fact, Anaheim, who claimed two victories with scores of 3-0 and 4-1 back in 2016. The Preds are stronger this season, though. Especially in Music City, where the fans will be driving the team for another Smashville victory…
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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...