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5 Keys: Predators at Ducks, Game 2

Nashville looking for second straight road win; Anaheim needs boost from slumping power play

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS at DUCKS
 
7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 1-0

ANAHEIM -- The Nashville Predators will try for another road win against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Sunday.

The Predators won Game 1 3-2 on an overtime goal by James Neal on Friday, the third straight Game 1 that Nashville has won on the road in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Ducks series coverage]

 

Here are 5 keys to Game 2:

 

1. Ducks power play

Anaheim hasn't scored on the power play in its past 21 chances dating to Game 2 of the second round against the Edmonton Oilers. Anaheim was 0-for-4 in Game 1 against Nashville and missed a chance to ride the momentum of a 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the third period by failing to capitalize on a slashing penalty with 5:54 left in the third period.

"Our will to succeed has to out-will the defense," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We can't continue to accept what's happening on that power play right now."

 

2. Ryan Ellis looking up

The defenseman led the Predators with seven shots on goal, blocked two shots and drew a roughing penalty on Ducks rookie forward Chris Wagner for the first power play of the game.

Ellis led the Predators at plus-17 during the regular season and enters Game 2 tied for second with nine points (four goals, five assists) after finishing eighth on Nashville in the regular season with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists).

"He's always played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who played two seasons with Ellis for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. "A lot of that comes from people always saying he was undersized (5-foot-10, 180 pounds)."

 

3. More needed from Sami Vatanen

Vatanen (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) is another undersized defensemen who was selected in the 2009 NHL Draft, by Anaheim at No. 106, 95 spots behind Ellis, who was taken No. 11 by Nashville.

Vatanen had better offensive numbers than Ellis the past three regular seasons, but Ellis continued to improve. Vatanen missed five games this postseason with an upper-body injury and has one assist. His minus-3 rating is the lowest among the eight Anaheim defensemen who've played this postseason.

 

4. Faceoff superiority

The Ducks were the top faceoff team in the NHL during the regular season (54.7 percent) and went 40-31 (56.3 percent) in Game 1. The Ducks scored their second goal immediately after a faceoff win in the offensive zone.

The Predators ranked eighth in the NHL during the regular season (51.4 percent) and will be aiming for more efficiency.

"Last game we played well, we had the start that we wanted to, but I still think we can play a lot better," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said.

 

5. Turn up the volume

The Predators took 77 shots at the net in Game 1 compared to 61 for the Ducks, and all three Nashville goals came off a deflection or redirection. The Predators didn't wait for an opening to shoot, an attitude they'll try to maintain.

"We've got to keep shooting," defenseman Roman Josi said. "I thought we did a good job again of getting pucks to the net [in Game 1], and it's always important. It's part of our mentality to get as many shots as we can."

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Wilson -- Mike Fisher -- Pontus Aberg

Colton Sissons -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Marek Mazanec, PA Parenteau, Miikka Salomaki, Craig Smith, Harry Zolnierczyk

Injured: Kevin Fiala (lower body)

 
Ducks projected lineup

Rickard Rakell -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Nick Ritchie -- Antoine Vermette -- Ondrej Kase

Chris Wagner -- Nate Thompson -- Jared Boll

Cam Fowler -- Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm -- Brandon Montour

Shea Theodore -- Josh Manson

John Gibson

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Sam Carrick, Korbinian Holzer, Clayton Stoner

Injured: Kevin Bieksa (lower body), Patrick Eaves (lower body), Logan Shaw (lower body)

 

Status report

The Ducks didn't seem inclined to change their defense pairs, even with Bieksa close to returning after missing seven games. "We're going to need as much mobility as possible on the back end, but we're always open for minor adjustments as we go forward," Carlyle said.

 

Who's hot

Rinne is 9-2 with a .950 save percentage and 1.47 goals-against average. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings holds the Stanley Cup Playoff single-season records in the expansion era (since 1967-68) for a goalie with at least 15 starts: a .946 save percentage and 1.41 GAA. He set those marks while helping the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 Neal has three goals in the past four games. Johansen has four points (one goal, three assists) in the past two games. Ekholm has three assists in the past two games.

 

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