Two nights ago, the Ducks climbed back into the series in thrilling fashion. Tonight, they'll look to take control.
With this best-of-seven Western Conference Final back in Anaheim for Game 5, the Ducks have reclaimed home ice advantage with three potential games remaining. However, it's up to them to utilize it.
Thursday's 3-2 overtime victory was another chapter in what has become a memorable - and remarkable - postseason journey for the Ducks, who have proven they can win in any building under any circumstance. Game 4 was a prime example of the resiliency this team has shown throughout the postseason, never wavering when adversity strikes.
Giving up not one, but two goals late in the third period didn't faze this group, which all of a sudden found themselves in overtime with the very-real possibility of going down 3-1 in the series. Instead, Corey Perry played hero for the third time in the playoffs with a severe-angle shot that placed him in historic company. With his third OT goal of this postseason, Perry matched the NHL record for most overtime goals in a playoff year, joining Mel Hill in 1939 and Maurice Richard in 1951.
"We've had to do it all playoffs," Nate Thompson said after Game 4. "I think there have been certain situations in the playoffs where we've had to deal with [adversity]. We have a good core of leadership in here, a good bunch in the group, and even our younger guys have been through it too. We know how to handle ourselves and I thought we did a good job of it, and came out and we took care of business."
One thing is certain. The winner of this game will be a single victory away from a berth in the Stanley Cup Final, while the loser will be on the brink of elimination. One could argue this is Nashville's first taste of adversity in the playoffs despite it being a 2-2 series. The Predators swept Chicago in the first round and eliminated St. Louis in six games. Though they were tied, 1-1, after the first two games against the Blues, the Predators went up 3-1 and then 3-2 before finishing them off in a decisive Game 6.
Furthermore - and this isn't exactly adversity, but it's worth mentioning - the Predators saw their 10-game home winning streak in the playoffs snapped on Thursday. The last time they lost at Bridgestone Arena in the postseason was against - you guessed it - Anaheim in Game 4 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round.
The Ducks built their foundation with a strong start in Game 4, and it set the tone for the rest of the game despite the late flurry from the Predators. They set a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a period (2) in the first period, and finished the opening frame with 14 of their own. It was a far cry from their start in Game 3 when they were guilty of "receiving the game," head coach Randy Carlyle said at the time.
"We just talked about having a good start," said Perry, on what was discussed prior to Game 4. "It's kind of what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted to do is come out and play the way we wanted to play, and I thought we did a great job of doing that."
If the Ducks come out with that same kind of start tonight, and continue to display the type of unwavering confidence they've shown throughout the postseason, is there anyone that can stand in their way?
"I think the last three or four years we've obviously gone through a lot, more downs in the playoffs than ups," said John Gibson. "But I think we just learn from that and I think now that we have a sense of calmness and we have the ability to always regroup, whether we're up or down or something like that happens, I think we all just have the belief in the locker room and we trust one another that we can come back or have success in any situation."