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Predators hope Pekka Rinne can give them edge in Game 3

Nashville banking on sharp game from goaltender on home ice against Ducks

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have not lost two consecutive games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they will rely on goaltender Pekka Rinne to prevent that from happening in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 after the Ducks' 5-3 victory in Game 2 at Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday.

Rinne, who leads all goaltenders in the playoffs with a 1.62 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage, allowed four goals on 16 shots in the first two periods of Game 2.

 

[RELATED: Complete Western Conference Final coverage]

 

"Pekka, since Day One [that] I've been here, he's been our MVP every year," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said Tuesday. "Pekka has been amazing. He's so mentally strong. He's a veteran leader in our room.

"Stuff happens. It wasn't pretty for the entire team in Game 2 and we'd like to be a lot better than we were. But it rests on everyone. It's not just one guy in here that's going to win or lose it. It's everyone in here.

"He made some big saves in that game that kept us in it. I think as a whole we need to be better and we can be better."

Defenseman Roman Josi said some mistakes in front of Rinne on Sunday made it seem as if the goalie wasn't having his best day.

"We weren't tight enough in front of him and they got a couple of good chances," Josi said. "He's been great for us all playoffs. I thought he was good last game too. We have to be better defensively.

"We've got a lot of confidence in him."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Rinne turns away Silfverberg in the 3rd

The Predators are 9-3 in the playoffs. They followed their previous two defeats, each in the second round against the St. Louis Blues, with victories and won the series in six games.

"Nobody should expect to go through the playoffs and not ever lose a game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "But I think the most important thing is how you bounce back from it, because there will be ups and downs. How quickly you can turn the page and focus on the next day and the next game. And our guys have been pretty good at that.

"So while the losses are always tough, they haven't been losses where I felt like we were completely outdone. And we turned the page and we moved forward."

As it has progressed through the postseason, Nashville has seen the emotion and intensity increase.

On the morning of Game 3, much of the talk from the Predators was about keeping their composure.

"It's intense out there," Josi said. "Both teams are playing real well so intensity is high. You've got to stay disciplined. But the goal is to win the game and you've got to stay disciplined."

That includes No. 1 center Ryan Johansen, who has been the target of tough checking from Selke Trophy finalist Ryan Kesler of the Ducks. The two have waged a spirited battle in the first two games.

"He [Johansen] knows it's going to come," Ellis said. "He's one of the most talented guys in the League. He's a big boy. You know that guys are going to pick on him, extra stick work, extra this, extra that. I'm sure for him it's frustrating taking the extra jabs here or there. But he knows it's coming and it's up to him to stay composed.

"It can be frustrating when you're taking those extra whacks and nothing is getting called back. It's part of the game. It happens and [he] knows that."

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