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Ducks determined to match energy level of Predators in Game 4

Anaheim believes it can execute better, win at Bridgestone Arena to even Western Conference Final

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- The Anaheim Ducks know the Nashville Predators present an unusual challenge in the Western Conference Final.

Not only do the Predators lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 in Nashville on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), they have won 10 straight playoff games at Bridgestone Arena, where they seem to play with extra energy.

Nashville is 6-0 at home in the 2017 postseason, outscoring opponents 17-7, including allowing one goal in each of its past five home games.

"It's unique in how they can sustain it the whole game," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "You'll see teams do that over the course of the season, but they'll do that for stretches of time. It's pretty rare to see a team that expects their players to do that for a full 60 minutes. But that's what they do.

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Predators series coverage]

 

"But they feel they have the players and speed to do that. It's effective and it's hard to play against."

Hard, but none of the Ducks said impossible.

"It's important to first have the belief you can do it," Fowler said. "Then you can go into other buildings and kind of quiet the crowd. We always talk about a simple road game, and I think we've proven to ourselves we can do that. It's more about execution now."

Tactical issues and preparation adjustments are common for any team. The Ducks are also trying to find the right method for adding energy, something they lacked in a 2-1 loss in Game 3.

"We evaluated stages of [Game 3], and I thought we had a decent start and it just seemed like we ran out of gas," coach Randy Carlyle said. "I thought our hockey club was flat with emotion, and you've got to give the opposition credit for taking that out of us too.

"I look at it, taking a few steps back, we played Game 7 [against the Edmonton Oilers in the second round] a week ago today. So that's four games in seven nights, and then you get more of an understanding of the level of intensity and the drainage that does take place on your people. We just have to make sure we manage the time, what we do on the days between and what we can do to re-energize our group. That's the most important thing."

Video: What improvements do the Ducks need to make in Game 4

Execution, especially making plays with the puck, will be an increased focus for the Ducks.

"They're a super-aggressive team, maybe even more at home when they have the crowd pumping energy into them," right wing Jakob Silfverberg said. "It's tough to play against when they're pinching a lot and keeping a lot of pucks in and getting a lot of zone time.

"A lot of times when we have the puck, we tend to just throw it away rather than making a play. And just come back, regroup. I think we get caught a lot of times flat-footed and stretching. We have to come back for pucks with more speed and play with a little bit more confidence rather than just chipping it up the ice."

Playing a little smarter would help too. In Game 3, the Ducks took two penalties in the offensive zone and the second one, a high-sticking call against forward Chris Wagner, gave the Predators a power play that led to Roman Josi's game-winning goal late in the third period.

"When we've been playing good, it's been all about us not taking too many penalties or just doing stupid things out there," right wing Rickard Rakell said. "Hopefully we can just keep our emotions in check going forward."

Some passion and competitiveness of their own would go a long way for Game 4, Carlyle said.

"We just have to play a lot more complete game," he said. "We have to be in a much more competitive state come [Thursday] night than what we were [Tuesday] night."

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