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.
Josi, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg combined for 20 shots on goal, matching the total of the entire Ducks roster.
That is why the Ducks feel pretty comfortable heading to Music City after avoiding an 0-2 deficit for a second straight series.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead at 4:18 in the first period when Viktor Arvidsson sprung Ryan Johansen on a breakaway. He entered Game 2 of the Western Conference Final with a 0.950 save percentage, a 1.41 goals against average and nine wins (not to mention three assists) – all tops in the National Hockey League. With about eight minutes left in the second the puck crossed the Nashville goal line however referees determined the net had been dislodged before that happened and the goal did not count. Just before he was out of range, Perry banked a wrist shot off Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne and into the net with 4:25 left.
Randy Carlysle shook up his lines when the Preds jumped out to their lead… one of the moves he made was to elevate Ondrej Kase to the first line… that decision paid off as Kase got his first of the playoffs to tie the game and wrest the momentum back, which led to a Nick Ritchie goal seven minutes later. This must mean they took more accurate shots and/or the Ducks defense was allowing the Predators to take many shots on goal. “From the flip side, the positive is we lost in overtime, so I think we were able to weather the storm in terms of how (Nashville) came out”. The score put an end to a terrible 0-for-21 drought on the power play.
The Predators have been a model of consistency while going 9-2 in the post-season, and they think much of the credit should be placed on a defensive corps that might be the best in the playoffs. One game in and the Senators have already done to the Penguins what Washington and Columbus could not: grab control of the series.
Game 3 is Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Their bottom six looked quite good in Game 1, and that even goes for oft-maligned winger Cody McLeod.
Still, U.S. head coach Jeff Blashill saw room for improvement before the final group game against Russian Federation on Tuesday. “We don’t want to put the pressure that you people put on it that it’s end-all”, said Carlyle. The other one occurred in Game 7 during the second round against the Edmonton Oilers. “They’re not going to give you anything but we worked hard to get our chances and we’ve got to bury them when we get them”. After the game, he said he just has to focus on his game.
Despite those disappointments, the Predators remained focused and continued to swarm over the fading Ducks before they finally capitalized on that late power play.
Johansen for Jones was one of the best pure hockey trades in recent history with benefits for the Predators and Blue Jackets, who are happy to have a young right-handed-shooting defenseman like Jones for the long term. The breakthrough came 14:32 into the first when Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin left a blind drop pass behind his net that Ryan intercepted and slipped to Pageau in the right circle.
Clearly, knocking Johansen off his game is important for Anaheim to advance. “It’s not that we didn’t show up and play hard, or we weren’t ready to compete or … we played good teams. They found a way to claw back”. “We need to play the same way, and they’re going to go in some time“.