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Conference Final

Ducks overcome adversity to defeat Predators in Game 4

Win in overtime after fading in third period, giving up tying goal in final minute

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

NASHVILLE -- The party ended 10:25 into overtime Thursday. Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry grabbed the puck in the right-wing corner. He held it for a heartbeat, then fired it to the front of the net. It went off the stick of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and slipped under the arm of goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The Ducks won 3-2 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. Gone was the Predators' push for a comeback victory and their 10-game winning streak at Bridgestone Arena in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Silenced was the celebration of the Nashville atmosphere and the Predators up-tempo style, at least for the moment.

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Predators series coverage | Campbell: Predators lament poor start to Game 4]

 

"It's just a tough break, a tough bounce," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.

True.

But it was earned, and now the best-of-7 series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is in Anaheim on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We have pride in this room too," Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said. "They've been getting a lot of attention for how they've been playing, and they've been playing good and they're a good team and they're a strong team. But I think we're here for a reason as well. I think tonight we pushed back a little bit, and now it's best two out of three."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Perry nets OT winner off deflection

The Predators were oh so close to getting even more attention. They trailed 2-0 in the third period to force overtime, when Subban scored on a point shot through traffic with 6:27 to go just after a power play ended and forward Filip Forsberg jammed in a rebound with 34.5 seconds left, cranking up the country music and the crowd.

But give the Ducks their due. They were outshot 40-20 in a 2-1 loss in Game 3. They heard about the Predators for two days. They tuned it out, or used it as motivation, and recharged.

They had played a seven-game series against the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Second Round and had one day off before the conference final, while the Predators had played a six-game series against the St. Louis Blues and had four days off. It might have caught up to them in Game 3.

So they spent Wednesday playing pool and darts instead of hockey.

"It was a great afternoon for everybody," Perry said. "I think that's exactly what we needed."

The Ducks wanted a strong start in Game 4.

"And we did that, with an exclamation mark," coach Randy Carlyle said.

They looked like a new team in the first period of Game 4, or like their old selves. They took a 1-0 lead at 11:30 when they caught the Predators on a line change. Defenseman Cam Fowler made a stretch pass and forward Rickard Rakell fired a wicked shot from the left circle past Rinne's blocker. They outshot the Predators 14-2.

"We weren't worried about the matchups so much, and we just started to play," Cogliano said. "They get a lot of credit for how they roll their lines and how they come at you, but we can do that too."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Carlyle talks about Ducks' OT win

The Ducks took a 2-0 lead 10:22 into the second when forward Nick Ritchie went high glove on Rinne from the right circle, and they almost made it 3-0 shortly afterward when center Ryan Kesler hit the right post.

Yes, they took four penalties in the third, including two that overlapped and gave the Predators a two-man advantage for 1:31, a stunning lack of discipline even for a penalty-prone team. Goaltender John Gibson had to make big saves, defenseman Sami Vatanen had to make a kick save, and a couple of Nashville shots hit posts.

The Ducks were outshot in the third 11-5 and went without a shot for a stretch of 13:03 that went into overtime. They blew a 2-0 lead and were one shot, one bounce, from losing and trailing 3-1 in the series.

But this is a team that has come back time and time again in these playoffs. They have come back from trailing by more than one goal four times to win. They came back from losing the first two games to defeat the Oilers. Though they didn't trail Thursday, add this to the list of adversity overcome.

The tying goal could have been crushing. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm deflected a shot with his stick. He and others lost sight of it. It fell behind the net and defenseman Josh Manson took a crosscheck to the back as he tried to play it. No call. All of that led to Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson feeding Forsberg in front. The Ducks shook it all off.

"We knew coming into overtime you put that period behind you, go out, play like you did in the first period, on our toes, getting pucks in deep," Perry said. "We kind of changed the momentum there, and we got some chances and we got a break."

They got, in their minds, justice.

"I thought we deserved to win," Cogliano said. "I thought we played a good game. I thought that was probably our best game of the series. It's funny how things work out when you stick to it and you play a solid game."

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