Five power plays and 27 shots later, a goose egg lay on the scoreboard for the home team. Frederik Andersen and the Anaheim Ducks came to town and shut off the music Tuesday night. Quack, Quack, Quack!!! That was all Predator fans heard at the conclusion of the game, as they beat Nashville 3-0, coming within one win of evening the series. Andersen recorded 27 saves. Nothing Pekka Rinne could do to stop the train on this night. This first-round playoff series is now 2-1.
We now have a hockey series. These two evenly matched squads will battle it out again on Thursday night for ‘game four’ at Bridgestone Arena. The Ducks came to play. They took it to the Predators from the start. They were more aggressive and focused. They also took very good care of the puck with no turnovers in the first 20 minutes and that combination helped them lead at the end of a period for the first time in this series. That’s what being down 2-0 will do to you. They haven’t lost three straight to open a postseason series since the 2006 Western Conference finals, and they didn’t come close to dropping a third straight this year.
The more than 17,000 attendees witnessed Andersen post his second postseason shutout, despite taking Shea Weber’s slap shot off his head in the opening seconds of a power play in the second period. Andersen now has 15 postseason wins since 2014. Even though the Ducks took five penalties, they showed much more discipline once the whistle blew.
Coach Bruce Boudreau called out his Ducks after a 3-2 loss in Game 2 for taking too many penalties and talking too much to the officials. Boudreau also switched from John Gibson to Andersen and played Shawn Horcoff for the first time in this series looking for a spark. Chris Stewart had a goal and assist.
Jamie McGinn and Rickard Rakell each scored their first goals of the series. McGinn scored on a wrister from the right circle off a pass from Horcoff after he skated up the slot midway through the first. Rakell finally got his first goal of the series around 11 minutes of the second period. He redirected a shot from Sami Vatanen to give Anaheim its biggest lead in this series, 2-0. Six minutes later Stewart padded the lead, putting a backhand top shelf off his own miss at 17:06.
The Predators lost center Craig Smith to a lower-body injury literally about a minute into the game. From that point on, coach Peter Laviolette was forced to mix up his lines. Filip Forsberg tried to give his Predators a boost, but some sloppy play with too many turnovers and missed opportunities on the man advantage led to a smattering of boos. When Forsberg helped kill off a big chunk of an Anaheim power play, fans gave him a standing ovation. Nashville took the first few shots of the second period and even got its second man advantage when McGinn tripped Forsberg after the Predators forward beat two Ducks for the puck. However, it turned into nothing. The penalty kill for the Ducks was superb. It was a frustrating night for the Preds, to say the least. That Duck defense was stifling. They forced turnover after turnover, in and out of the zone.
“They’re good defensively,” said Predators defenseman Roman Josi.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf became the first Anaheim player in franchise history to play in 100 playoff games. Shea Weber set a franchise record for Nashville by playing in his 48th postseason game.