En­er­gized Ducks even West­ern fi­nals, beat Preda­tors 5-3

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY GREG BEACHAM THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Nick Ritchie scored the tiebreak­ing goal late in the sec­ond pe­riod, and the Ana­heim Ducks roared back from an early twogoal deficit to even the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals with a 5-3 vic­tory over the Nashville Preda­tors in Game 2 on Sun­day night.

Jakob Sil­fver­berg, Sami Vata­nen and On­drej Kase also scored while the Ducks cracked im­pos­ing goalie Pekka Rinne with a thrilling surge of four goals in less than 19 min­utes. The Preda­tors hadn’t al­lowed four goals in any game dur­ing their ex­cel­lent Stan­ley Cup play­off run be­fore Ana­heim fi­nally got rolling for its sell­out crowd.

John Gib­son stopped 30 shots, and An­toine Ver­mette had an empty-net goal for the Ducks.

Ryan Jo­hansen, James Neal and Filip Fors­berg scored for the Preda­tors

Game 3 is Tues­day night in Nashville.

Rinne made 22 saves for the Preda­tors, who faced rel­a­tively lit­tle ad­ver­sity while steam­rolling Chicago and St. Louis in the first two rounds on the way to the first con­fer­ence fi­nals in fran­chise his­tory.

Two days af­ter Nashville’s 3-2 over­time vic­tory at Honda Cen­ter in the se­ries opener, Jo­hansen and Neal scored in the open­ing 8:32 of Game 2.

The Ducks fi­nally awak­ened at the prospect of their sec­ond straight 0-2 se­ries deficit and replied with high-oc­tane hockey — and a few for­tu­nate bounces — that was too much even for Rinne, who hadn’t given up four goals in a game since March 13.

Ritchie, the power for­ward mak­ing his first ca­reer play­off run, scored the win­ning goal in Game 7 against Ed­mon­ton. Four days later, he got his next ma­jor goal on an ex­cep­tional high shot that ap­peared to glance off Rinne’s mask on the way in.

Ana­heim hung on through a fre­netic third pe­riod, sur­viv­ing a few mad scram­bles be­fore cap­tain Ryan Get­zlaf got his third as­sist of the night on Ver­mette’s empty-net­ter. The Ducks also got sev­eral good saves from Gib­son, who has raised his level of play from the first two rounds.

Although Honda Cen­ter was much fuller and louder than it was for the traf­fic-af­fected se­ries opener, the Ducks’ knack for slow starts at home re­mained con­stant.

Af­ter Jo­hansen scored on a break­away just 4:18 in, Neal dou­bled the lead on a power play with one of the eas­i­est goals in re­cent his­tory, es­cort­ing the puck unim­peded into the net when Gib­son com­pletely lost sight of the play.

The now-fa­mil­iar omi­nous hush fell over Honda Cen­ter, but the Ducks got go­ing in an un­likely sce­nario. Ana­heim’s power play was score­less in 21 straight at­tempts dat­ing to Game 2 of the sec­ond round against Ed­mon­ton, but Vata­nen beat Rinne cleanly with a slap shot for his first goal of the post-sea­son.

Sil­fver­berg evened it in the open­ing minute of the sec­ond pe­riod, cash­ing in Rickard Rakell’s pass on the back side of Rinne for the ninth goal of the Swede’s out­stand­ing post­sea­son.

The Preda­tors took an­other lead when Fors­berg cashed in a re­bound of a break­away by speedy Vik­tor Arvids­son, who

had two as­sists.

The Ducks pulled even again on the first ca­reer play­off goal for Kase, the ag­gres­sive Czech rookie, who slipped a puck through traf­fic. NOTES: The Ducks kept veteran Jared Boll in their lineup over sev­eral young prospects to re­place in­jured F Pa­trick Eaves, who missed his sixth straight game. Boll, who is score­less in four post-sea­son games, had no goals and three as­sists in 51 reg­u­lar-sea­son games . ... Ryan Get­zlaf has 18 points in the post-sea­son, trailing only Pitts­burgh’s Ev­geni Malkin (19) . ... Mike Trout crossed Katella Av­enue to sup­port the Ducks for the sec­ond time in three play­off games. The two-time AL MVP home­red and stole two bases while the An­gels beat Detroit 4-1 ear­lier in the day.

AP PHOTO/CHRIS CARL­SON

Ana­heim Ducks goalie John Gib­son (36) blocks a shot by Nashville Preda­tors’ Mike Fisher (12) dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of Game 2 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in the NHL hockey Stan­ley Cup play­offs, Sun­day, in Ana­heim, Calif.

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