Ducks even Western finals
Corey Perry’s shot deflected in off Nashville defenceman P.K. Subban’s stick 10:25 into overtime, and the Ducks snapped the Predators’ 10-game home playoff winning streak with a 3-2 victory Thursday night that evened the Western Conference finals at 2-2.
John Gibson made 32 saves for Anaheim, which was the last team to beat the Predators in Nashville in the playoffs last spring in Game 4 of their first-round series.
Rickard Rakell and Nick Ritchie staked the Ducks to a 2-0 lead. But Subban scored with 6:27 left, and Filip Forsberg tied it with 34.5 seconds remaining in regulation with his fourth goal in four games.
The Predators had matched the 199798 Detroit Red Wings with their 10game winning streak but missed matching Colorado’s 11-0 playoff run in 1996-97.
Perry ended the second overtime in this series with a goal originally credited to Nate Thompson. Perry’s shot from near the right boards deflected off Subban’s stick and past goalie Pekka Rinne as the defenceman tried to poke- check the puck away. Perry has three overtime goals this year. Game 5 is Saturday night in Anaheim. The Ducks killed off five penalties, including a 5-on-3 in the third. But the Predators outshot them 11-5 in the third with the late flurry forcing overtime.
Subban scored off a blast from the blue-line to revive the standing-room only crowd with Forsberg helping screen Gibson. Then Anaheim defenceman Kevin Bieksa, playing his first game since the opener against Edmonton in the second round, went to the box for high-sticking Forsberg. Just 29 seconds later, defenceman Josh Manson slashed James Neal.
That gave Nashville a 5 on 3 for 1:31 with 4:38 left. The Predators couldn’t get the puck past Gibson.
Forsberg, who started Nashville’s comeback win in Game 3, ensured overtime crashing the net with two teammates and smashing the puck across the line.
Nashville brought out the inaugural American Idol winner in Kelly Clarkson as the latest big name to sing the national anthem, and rock group Kings of Leon rallying up the crowd by waving from the bandstand in Music City’s latest show of star power. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also was on hand with a franchise-record 17,423 fans on hand.
The Ducks looked much stronger after a day off Wednesday from coach Randy Carlyle, and they pounded the Predators up and down the ice. Defenceman Josh Manson even checked Rinne against the boards behind the net late in the second period.
They also dominated the play early and caught the Predators in a line change with a long pass to Rakell leading to a slap shot that beat Rinne at 11:30 of the first. It was the seventh goal this post-season for Rakell, who led the Ducks with 33 goals during the regular season.
Anaheim wound up outshooting Nashville 14-2 in the first period thanks to the Predators being credited for a shot during the intermission. It was the fewest shots ever allowed by the Ducks in a period.
The Predators opened the second with a bit more energy, matching what they put on net in the first period within a minute. But Ritchie gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead at 10:22 with a wrister from the right circle, beating Rinne’s blocker for his fourth this post-season.
Anaheim Ducks centre Andrew Cogliano (7) celebrates with goalie John Gibson (36) after defeating the Nashville Predators in overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.