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Ducks defense sparks turnaround

Anaheim gets more physical entering Game 5 against Nashville

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Home-ice advantage hasn't been an advantage at all for the Anaheim Ducks or the Nashville Predators in their Western Conference First Round series. But after winning the past two games on the road, the Ducks intend to gain an edge when they return home to host the Predators in Game 5 at Honda Center on Saturday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, PRIME, FS-TN).

The Ducks started the postseason the same way they opened the regular season: with two uninspired, unimpressive losses. But they went to Nashville and evened the series with two wins, including a 4-1 victory in Game 4 on Thursday. Winning on the road is fine, but there's a greater sense of urgency to win Game 5 in Anaheim.

"Just because we've won two games doesn't mean we've won anything," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "We have to keep things rolling. Mentally, guys need to stay sharp. We got ourselves back in the series, and, if anything, we established how we need to play in order to win."

The Ducks feel they've re-established the defensive identity they credit with helping to turn things around months ago; they had the best record in the NHL after the Christmas break (34-10-5). In the two games in Nashville, they blocked shots, were physical, and received outstanding goaltending performances from Frederik Andersen.

In Game 4, the Ducks withstood an especially strong push by the Predators in the second period. After giving up the tying goal, Anaheim was able to shift the momentum quickly.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm4: Cogliano nets one-timer off faceoff

"It says the same thing we've been saying all year, that we're a resilient team," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And when you look at the push, there was maybe five minutes from the 13-minute mark to the 8-minute mark where we couldn't do anything right and they couldn't do anything wrong. The first seven minutes were pretty normal, and the last eight minutes, Cam [Fowler] had that chance then Nate [Thompson] had that chance from Corey [Perry] and he scored that (tiebreaking) goal (late in the second), then I thought we were back on track."

Penalties (the Ducks took six Thursday) and the lack of home wins were addressed in a meeting and an optional practice Friday at Honda Center. But the message was more about the Ducks' mentality.

It was the same as before Games 3 and 4: Stay desperate.

"There's not much we need to think about other than getting ready to play [Saturday]," Cogliano said. "It's the biggest game of the series. They're going to want to establish their road game like we did in their building."

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