Tak­ing its toll

Ducks rest­ing up for ag­gres­sive Preds down 2-1 in West

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY TERESA M. WALKER

The post-sea­son can be ex­haust­ing, and play­ing four games in seven nights go­ing from an emo­tional Game 7 to wrap up one se­ries to the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals is start­ing to take a toll on the Ana­heim Ducks.

Play­ing the Nashville Preda­tors in­side the NHL’s tough­est arena in nearly 20 years sure isn’t help­ing.

Coach Randy Car­lyle said Wed­nes­day that his Ducks just ran out of gas af­ter tak­ing a 1-0 lead Tues­day night in Game 3.

The Preda­tors scored twice in the third, not count­ing two goals waved off for goalie in­ter­fer­ence, and pulled out a 2-1 vic­tory for a 2-1 lead in the West­ern fi­nals.

Car­lyle said he thought his Ducks were flat with emo­tion and cred­ited the Preda­tors for tak­ing that out of them. A sched­ule that had Ana­heim start­ing this se­ries less than 48 hours af­ter oust­ing Ed­mon­ton in a de­cid­ing sev­enth game doesn’t help ei­ther.

“You look back and you say, ‘Hey, we played Game 7 a week ago to­day,”’ Car­lyle said Wed­nes­day. “You know, so that’s four games in six nights or seven nights. And then you get more of an un­der­stand­ing of the in­ten­sity and the drainage that does take place on your peo­ple.”

Then there’s the chal­lenge of play­ing in Nashville where the Preda­tors just notched their 10th straight play­off win dat­ing to last sea­son.

It’s the NHL’s long­est streak since Detroit won 10 straight in 1997-98 af­ter Colorado went 11-0 in 1996-97. The Preda­tors are just the 10th team to win at least 10 straight at home in the play­offs since the NHL ex­panded in 1967-68. It’s the 15th time an NHL team has ran off 10 con­sec­u­tive play­off wins at home.

Nashville started this last year against these very same Ducks. Ana­heim won the first two games in Nashville by a mar­gin of 7-1 be­fore the Preda­tors won Game 6 in tak­ing the first-round se­ries in seven.

They haven’t lost since, win­ning the first six at home this post-sea­son de­spite be­ing the last team in the West into the play­offs as the sec­ond wild­card.

Game 4 is tonight. Ducks for­ward Jakob Sil­fver­berg said he doesn’t know if it mat­ters right now if the Preda­tors are at home or not be­cause of how ag­gres­sively they’re play­ing. Be­ing at home only means the crowd, which reached 17,338 with stand­ing room, pumps Nashville up even more.

Add to that Nashville’s de­fence­men pinch­ing to keep pucks in­side the of­fen­sive zone, pre­vent­ing the Ducks from break­ing into their own zone to shoot at Preda­tors goalie Pekka Rinne.

“A lot of times it can be frus­trat­ing be­cause maybe you don’t get as much room as you’re used to out there, es­pe­cially as a winger,” Sil­fver­berg said. “So just a su­per ag­gres­sive team and es­pe­cially with the crowd in their back, it’s tough some­times, tough to gen­er­ate any of­fence.”

The Preda­tors an­swered Ana­heim’s phys­i­cal style Tues­day night, out­hit­ting the Ducks 32-24 — led by Austin Wat­son with a game-high seven. It’s all part of the style coach Peter Lavi­o­lette has in­stilled.

“We want to dic­tate the pace of the game, and we want to at­tack you in all three zones as a five-man unit and be tough to play against,” Nashville de­fence­man P.K. Sub­ban said.

With Nashville tak­ing the se­ries opener, the Preda­tors just need to keep it up to ex­tend this fran­chise’s al­ready his­toric run.

“Now we’re look­ing for­ward to the in­ten­sity ramp­ing up for the sec­ond game at home,” Sub­ban said.

AP PHOTO

Nashville Preda­tors de­fense­man P.K. Sub­ban (left) and Ana­heim Ducks cen­tre Ryan Get­zlaf scuf­fle af­ter the con­clu­sion of Game 3 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in the NHL Stan­ley Cup play­offs Tues­day in Nashville, Tenn.

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