NASHVILLE -- In the hours leading into a pivotal Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena, the scenario is as clear as it gets.
Win tonight, and all of a sudden, you have yourself a brand new series (a best-of-three in this case) for the chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose tonight, and you will be staring down the face of elimination. The Ducks dug themselves out of a huge hole when they reeled off three consecutive victories after being down 0-2 to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round. However, tonight they will have to do what no team has done in the playoffs since they did it themselves on April 21, 2016, and that's beat the Predators on home ice.
The Predators enter tonight's game with 10 consecutive postseason victories at Bridgestone Arena, becoming just the third team in the last 28 years to do so. It started in Game 6 against Anaheim last year and includes six more wins through three rounds this time around. With that being said, the Ducks came close on Tuesday, dropping a 2-1 game to give the Predators a 2-1 series lead, but close is certainly not good enough in the playoffs.
The Ducks used yesterday as a day to get away from the rink and clear their minds. In fact, they made a last minute switch and changed locations for their media availability from the Predators' practice facility to a boot store connected to their team hotel.
"Our hockey club was flat with emotion and you have to give the opposition credit for taking that out of us," head coach Randy Carlyle said, when asked about Game 3. "They played in our face and we weren't allowed to execute to the level we're accustomed to. We just have to play a lot more of a complete game. We have to be in a much more competitive state come [tonight] than what we were able to perform to [in Game 3]."
There isn't much room for error anymore. If the Ducks hope to bring this series back home tied with a chance to take control in Game 5, it has to begin tonight.
"It's important to first have the belief that you can do it, and that you can go into other buildings, quiet the crowd and play - we always talk about a simple road game," said Cam Fowler. "We've proven to ourselves that we can do that. I don't think much carries over from anything you've done previously, but we know we have the capabilities to do that. It's more about execution now. We're trying to get our game going in the right direction, and we need to do that if we're going to steal one."