Stanley Cup Playoffs: Predators regain West finals lead, stay unbeaten at home


At least, that was how fans of the Nashville Predators had been looking at it after on-ice officials almost “cost” their team a win in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.

Filip Forsberg tied the game 3:54 into the third period for the Predators.

After finishing off St. Louis in the second round last weekend and resting while the Ducks labored through seven games against Edmonton, Nashville capitalized on its fresh legs to win a predictably physical game between two hard-hitting powers.

The Predators took another lead when Forsberg converted a rebound of a breakaway by speedy Viktor Arvidsson, who had two assists. With the 35th goal of his playoff career, RW Corey Perry tied Teemu Selanne (35) for second on the all-time franchise postseason goals list, two behind Ryan Getzlaf.

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. Pekka Rinne struggled in net for Nashville, stopping just 22-of-26 shots.

Johnny Gaudreau finished with two goals in Cologne, Germeny, to take his tournament total to six, and an assist, while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves on his fourth start for the Americans, whose confidence seems to be growing as they stretched their winning run to five games.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle paid tribute to Gibson's shot-stopping work in goal.

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Anaheims Ryan Kesler was booed nearly every time he touched the puck on Tuesday night, but most of the venom during the third period was saved for referees Brad Meier and Wes McCauley, who had the audacity to disallow two Nashville goals.

"Well, I think the shots against tonight, I just have one tidbit that at one point it was 9-8 for us". And I think we've been doing that. The score put an end to a terrible 0-for-21 drought on the power play. 5-on-5 faceoffs, the Predators won 52%. they went 1-5 on faceoffs on special teams. But with less than two minutes to play, the Ducks got a power play opportunity and cashed in as Sami Vatanen scored his first of the playoffs to cut the lead to one after 20 minutes. One game in and the Senators have already done to the Penguins what Washington and Columbus could not: grab control of the series.

Game 4 in the series takes place in Nashville on Thursday. "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". The officials missed that one, as well as a two-hander to the back of the legs of Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban late in the third period. Pittsburgh drawing "first blood" in subsequent games of this series has never been so important, and it is their pathway to winning this series and advancing to the Cup Finals for a second consecutive season.

"Moving him up and down in our lineup gives us some flexibility", Carlyle said. "We got better as the game went on".

"They didn't surprise us. They found a way to claw back".

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Gibson is getting better as the pressure mounts. Rinne picked up right where he left off last season when Nashville eliminated Anaheim from the first round in seven games, but Gibson was similarly outstanding. "We need to play the same way, and they're going to go in some time".