Regroup, turn the page and move on.
That was the message from Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle immediately following their series-opening overtime loss to the Nashville Predators two nights ago at Honda Center. This is a best-of-seven series after all, and adversity is nothing new to a Ducks team that defied the odds by overcoming a 0-2 deficit in the Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Predators aren't the Oilers, though, so it is even more imperative that the Ducks put forth a much better performance tonight than they did in Game 1 if they want to even this series at a game apiece before it shifts to Bridgestone Arena.
"We gotta get going here," Andrew Cogliano said to reporters yesterday. "These are the games that are the important ones and you want to make the most of. We have to realize where we are. We need to get ourselves in the game emotionally right away."
Though the Ducks opened the scoring with their first shot on goal (Jakob Silfverberg), the Predators dominated the first period. Nashville appeared to be the hungrier, more desperate hockey club. Could the Ducks' lackadaisical start have been the byproduct of an emotional letdown from two nights prior?
Cogliano says the start of Game 1 didn't feel like the Western Conference Final. "A lot of things played a factor in it," he said. "Emotionally, we didn't start the game like we wanted to. On the flip side, the positive is we lost in overtime. We were able to weather the storm. We won Game 7 and a lot of guys felt great about it. The organization and fan base, as well. We let that game [on Friday] get away from us."
The Predators, on the other hand, who had not played since Sunday's Game 6 victory over the St. Louis Blues, came out firing on all cylinders. "They came out extremely aggressive and put us on our heels in the first period," said Cam Fowler. "Starts in the playoffs are huge. We need to make sure we turn that around."
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who hasn't played since Game 1 of the Second Round (April 26), is available tonight, according to Carlyle. As are fellow defensemen Korbinian Holzer and Clayton Stoner. Will there be changes on the blueline? Carlyle says he and his coaching staff are always open to them.
"We felt with the type of skating team - the pressure team - we're presented with in Nashville, we're going to need as much mobility as we possibly can have on the backend," he said. "We're always open with minor adjustments as we move forward."