Predators win Game 1 in OT against Ducks
James Neal scores at 9:24 for Nashville's first conference final winby Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent
ANAHEIM -- The Nashville Predators made sure their first Western Conference Final game was memorable for the right reason.
James Neal scored at 9:24 of overtime to give the Predators a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 at Honda Center on Friday.
"I don't know if it hit the goalie or the player that was laying in front still," Neal said. "But it was a good feeling to see it go in."
Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson scored for the Predators, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen each had two assists, and goaltender Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.
[WATCH: All Predators vs. Ducks highlights | RELATED: Complete Nashville vs. Anaheim series coverage]
"We didn't play well in the third, but in the overtime we got back to our game and back to playing again," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.
Nashville is 9-2 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 2 of this best-of-7 series is here Sunday.
Jakob Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm scored for Anaheim, which lost Game 1 at home for the second consecutive series, and John Gibson made an NHL career-high 43 saves.
"We haven't played a team like that in a while," Gibson said. "We got better as the game went on.
The Ducks tied it 2-2 7:21 into the third period on a slap shot by Lindholm after they won a faceoff in the Predators zone.
Anaheim then killed 1:28 of a 5-on-3 power play after Ryan Getzlaf and then Nate Thompson were called for delay of game for sending the puck over the glass. Gibson made two saves on Neal, and Cam Fowler and Ryan Kesler each blocked shots.
Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Silfverberg wires a wrister top shelf
"Usually, when those things happen, you can take that energy and roll through the rest of the hockey game," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Nashville took a 2-1 lead at 2:42 of the second period on the first goal of the playoffs by Watson. Johansen started the play with a cross-ice pass to Watson, whose one-timer from the left faceoff circle hit Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, who was battling for position with Predators forward Cody McLeod.
The Ducks had back-to-back power plays shortly after the go-ahead goal but combined for one shot on goal. They were 0-for-4 and have gone 21 consecutive power plays without scoring, back to Game 2 of the second round against the Edmonton Oilers.
"Both teams want their power play to do more than they did, but at the same time our penalty kill did a nice job today at not giving them much," Forsberg said.
Anaheim completed its series against Edmonton with a Game 7 win on Wednesday. Nashville had not played since ending its series against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Sunday.
The Predators outshot the Ducks 13-1 in the first 13 minutes, but Anaheim scored on its only shot. Kesler kept the puck in the Nashville zone and it skidded diagonally toward the right circle. Silfverberg shot as soon as he got within reach to score over Rinne's right shoulder at 5:15.
Nashville tied it 1-1 at 12:34 on a deflection by Forsberg. Ducks forward Nick Ritchie turned over the puck at the Anaheim blue line and Matt Irwin took a shot from the left point that went through Ritchie's legs, off Forsberg's stick and through Gibson's pads.
Goal of the game
After a scramble in front of the net, the puck went to Ekholm in the corner. He passed it out high to P.K. Subban, who faked a shot and then slid it to Neal in the left circle. His shot hit Ducks forward Corey Perry on the right arm as he slid for a block, and the puck went over Gibson for the game-winner.
Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Neal nets Subban's feed for OT win
Save of the game
Rickard Rakell redirected a shot at Rinne, who made the save but left the rebound in front of the crease. Getzlaf came in front from the side, took possession of the puck and kept it on his stick as he tried to wait out the goalie, but Rinne stuck out his left pad while his upper body twisted in the opposite direction to kick the puck aside at 6:52 of third period.
Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Rinne denies Getzlaf from the doorstep
Highlight of the game
Ducks forward Nate Thompson won a faceoff in the Nashville zone and the puck went back to Lindholm, who beat Rinne with a slap shot to the short side for his first goal of the postseason.
Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Lindholm strikes off a faceoff
Unsung performance of the game
McLeod took a season-high four shots on goal and matched Anaheim's physicality during his 8:09 of ice time.
They said it
"They're an aggressive team that can skate. They're a good hockey club, and it's going to be a tough series." -- Ducks forward Nate Thompson
"We know we haven't done anything yet. We have to stay on for Game 2, and we know now we'll have that home-ice advantage again." -- Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm
Need to know
Watson is the 15th Nashville player to score this postseason. ... 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. ... Silfverberg has eight goals this postseason; he had eight total in five previous postseasons. … Lindholm scored his first playoff goal in 25 games, since May 17, 2015 (Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks). It was his third goal in 46 NHL playoff games.
Game 2 of Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports)