By Kyle Shohara
NASHVILLE – You can see it on the players’ faces this morning during the morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. It’s all business. That was the approach they took for Game 3, and it resulted in an emphatic 3-0 victory in front of a raucous sellout crowd decked out in Predators gold.
They’ll have to do it again tonight and raise their game to another level, because surely the Preds will too. It’s a pivotal game for obvious reasons. The Ducks can return to Honda Center with a brand new series tied at two games apiece, essentially turning it into a best of three, or be on the brink of elimination in a 3-1 hole.
Nothing has come easy for the Ducks in 2015-16, but the adversity they had to overcome throughout the season should serve them well tonight, and for the remainder of this series.
“It’s that business-like mentality,” said Ducks center Nate Thompson. “We have to come out the same way, or probably even better, because we know they’re going to play their best game. We know they’re going to answer the bell. We have to make sure we do the same.”
The chip on their shoulder leading into Game 3 will also push them tonight, says left wing Ryan Garbutt.
“Definitely a lot of guys are mad in here, and we’ll take it on the ice,” he said, but noted the importance of controlled emotion. “You don’t want to get comfortable, though. A lot of guys in this room know we have to play better. We’ll have to be better than last game. We’re definitely going to have to block shots. If you have [Shea] Weber and [Roman] Josi back there, we’ll have to play strong in front of them.”
After putting in a stellar 27-save shutout performance two nights ago, the Ducks will once again turn to Frederik Andersen to lead the way in net. He was great in his 2016 postseason debut, especially during each of Nashville’s five power plays. Pekka Rinne will get the start for Nashville. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says no lineup changes are expected for his squad.
Lineup changes are expected for Nashville, at least for one roster spot. Craig Smith, who gave Anaheim fits in Games 1 and 2 with a goal and two points, isn’t expected to play. Smith suffered a lower-body injury in the opening seconds of Game 3 and only took two shifts for 1:05 of ice time. As of right now, Smith is being listed as day to day. Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette kept mum on specific changes to his lineup earlier this morning, but word is that Colton Sissons could draw in. Sissons has been a healthy scratch for the first three games of this series.
Puck drop for Game 4 will be shortly after 5 p.m. PDT, with the game being televised on Prime Ticket. As a reminder, fans can watch tonight’s game outside Honda Center for an official Ducks watch party. More information can be found here.