Nashville Wins 10th Consecutive Playoff Game at Home, Takes 2-1 Series Lead
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
Filip Forsberg tied it, Roman Josi finished it.
Two goals in the third period led to a comeback win for the Nashville Predators as they defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a 2-1 final in Game Three to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Final. The victory stretches Nashville’s postseason win streak at Bridgestone Arena to 10 games, with the Preds yet to lose consecutive contests in these playoffs.
Entering into the third period trailing 1-0, Nashville put on one of their most impressive pushes of these playoffs. Four pucks entered the Anaheim net in the final frame, and although only two of them counted, that was all the Preds needed in their first conference final home game in club history.
“We just had to stick with it, honestly, and just keep pushing,” Preds Captain Mike Fisher said. “We felt good about our game the whole game. We just couldn’t find a goal the first couple periods, but we just kept coming and found a way on the power play.”
The Predators had their chances through the first two periods of Game Three, outshooting Anaheim 28-13, but it was the Ducks who had a 1-0 lead. After a scoreless first, Corey Perry tallied on the power play, his third of the playoffs, for a one-goal advantage after 40 minutes.
“You could sense going into that third period…the guys were saying the right things,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “They were confident. I think they believed that they were playing a decent game, and if we just stayed with it that we would eventually get one to drop and then see where it goes from there.”
In the third period, the Predators kept coming, and it wasn’t long before they broke through. After a scramble in front, Forsberg fired a shot past John Gibson to even the score and send the Nashville crowd into their typical, ear-spitting postseason levels. The Predators then followed it up with two more pucks past Gibson, but both instances were called back due to goaltender interference, keeping the score even at 1-1.
No matter, however, as the Predators got a late power-play opportunity, and after going 0-for-3 with the man advantage to that point, it was Josi who wired a shot into the yawning cage with less than three minutes remaining to give the home team the only lead they needed.
“I think there’s confidence in our group,” Laviolette said. “I think the guys – like I said, they believed going into the game that they could be successful even though it’s coming off a loss, a hard-fought loss in Anaheim in Game Two. I think there was belief going into the third period that we could be successful as well.”
And in the first conference final game in Bridgestone Arena’s history, the Predators gave their faithful something to cheer about.
“Being at home here is an advantage for us because of the environment and the atmosphere that the fans bring,” Laviolette said. “So it was a good place to be and a good spot to be in. If you need to score a goal and you need to have a big period, it’s a good spot to do it in this building.”
“I’ve never been to a college football game, but I feel like when you watch it on TV, everyone is standing. They have their chants, they’re cheering the entire game; I think that’s the closest thing you can relate [a Predators home game] to,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “Every TV timeout, every hit, everything – the fans cheer everything. The fans are incredible. We thrive off their energy.”
“We Just Didn’t Give Up”
It looked like it may have been shaping up to be one of those games – run into a hot goaltender, opposition gets just one by, and an opportunity goes by the wayside.
The Predators weren’t interested in following that script in Game Three of the Western Conference Final.
Trailing 1-0 entering the third period, Nashville only needed one for some life, and that’s exactly what they got from Filip Forsberg, who potted his third in as many games at 3:54 of the frame to get the building rocking.
And after not one, but two more Nashville tallies were disallowed due to goaltender interference, a late man advantage of their own led to the exclamation point from Josi.
“I just feel like we were getting into our game,” forward James Neal said of the third period. “We were coming in waves and pushing in there. You could feel it – the energy in the building. We were getting good looks and we knew one was going to come.”
Nashville, TN – May 16: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks (not pictured) during the third period in Game Three of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 16, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville, TN – May 16: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks (not pictured) during the third period in Game Three of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 16, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. Frederick Breedon
“Sometimes in games like that, you get frustrated,” Fisher said. “You’re pressing, and a goaltender is good. The key is to just stick with it and believe that you’re going to get one at some point if you keep going. That’s what we did. We just didn’t give up.”
There’s just been something about this team during their current run – never quite out of it, always managing to find an answer when it matters most. And while the Preds know their tilt with the Ducks has a few more chapters before it’s all over, the third installment will go down as one of the greatest moments in Nashville sports history – at least for now.
“You always try to establish your home building as a tough place to play and I think we’ve been doing that,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “Even in the regular season, we like to play at home, but during these playoffs, you don’t want to have any regrets. You don’t want to look back at these home games as a missed chance. We’ve been doing a really good job.”
With an assist on Filip Forsberg’s goal, Ryan Ellis recorded his 10th point of the playoffs to set a franchise record for defensemen in a single postseason.
Harry Zolnierczyk entered the lineup on Tuesday in favor of Vernon Fiddler.
Game Four of the Western Conference Final is set for Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena before the Preds head back to Anaheim for Game Five on Saturday.