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National Hockey League playoffs 2017: James Neal's goal gives Predators OT win over Ducks

National Hockey League playoffs 2017: James Neal's goal gives Predators OT win over Ducks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Nashville Predators are so confident right now that not even having two goals in eight seconds waved off for goaltender interference can shake them.

Josi, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg combined for 20 shots on goal, matching the total of the entire Ducks roster.

The Predators took a 2-0 lead when Anaheim goalie John Gibson lost track of the puck and allowed Canadian Neal to get in behind him and score into an empty cage.

ABOUT THE DUCKS: Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle made a calculated gamble in Game 2 when, with his team trailing by two goals, he shuffled his lines and replaced Corey Perry with rookie Ondrej Kase on the No. 1 unit with captain Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Ritchie. Roman Josi broke a 1-1 deadlock by beating John Gibson on a power play with 2:43 remaining.

The Predators overcame back-to-back canceled-out goals in that rush to succeed, and there are at least some who wonder if they were crashing Gibson's net in a way that wasn't quite innocent. Gibson was impenetrable in Russian Federation that year, giving up just two goals total in the medal round while facing shooters such as Mark Scheifele, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Hertl and, ironically, future Nashville standouts Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson.

Backed again by stellar defensive play and more timely goal scoring, the Predators thoroughly outplayed the Ducks on Tuesday.

"I wish we didn't get down in the first place, but I think we have three or four lines that get going and just keep punching through", Ducks forward Rickard Rakell said.

"I think the guys will be fine", he said. They also won their third straight series opener on the road, continuing their month-long run of relentless postseason play. Looks like the Predators went all out to welcome them and make them feel like family. Quite possibly. The matchup of both Kesler and Johansen will certainly draw the attention of the officials as this series continues.




Game 3 is Tuesday night in Nashville.

Game 2 was another tight, low-scoring game, but the ice was clearly tilted Pittsburgh's way in the third period. Unfortunately for them, they didn't carry that over into the middle or the end of the story that was Game 2.

That would set up overtime in Game 1, where Bobby Ryan ended things with a pretty breakaway goal at 4:59 to give Ottawa the series lead. After the game, he said he just has to focus on his game. "It gives us that extra boost and that extra energy that we needed".

"We understand, they wait", Malkin said. "We got better as the game went on". 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. Nashville RW Craig Smith missed his third straight game due to an undisclosed injury. Johansen said he didn't know how anyone could cheer for a guy like that constantly prodding and poking.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Gibson is getting better as the pressure mounts.

"Our players are really good at not fearing the outcome, and we play the way we play", Boucher said.

It was so just barely, in fact, that Kase didn't even recognize this shining moment of his career as it happened in real time.


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