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Predators downplay Ducks revenge factor in Western Conference Final

Nashville believes victory against Anaheim in playoffs last year won't have bearing on this series

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are acutely aware of the challenge facing the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

Last season, Nashville rallied from down 3-2 in the first round to defeat Anaheim with a 2-1 win in Game 7 at Honda Center. The Predators know there will be a narrative about the Ducks getting revenge from that series but believe it won't be much of a factor for Nashville heading into its first conference final.

Game 1 is at Honda Center on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"There's so much on the line," Nashville center Mike Fisher said. "There's that, but there's also the winner of the series gets to play for the [Stanley] Cup, so that's probably the only motivation you need. They're a great hockey team. We had a great series with them last year and we feel like it's going to be an exciting round."

The Predators have a different look since their last playoff meeting with the Ducks. Defenseman P.K. Subban was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Shea Weber, and some of the role players who made an impact against the Ducks are gone, including center Paul Gaustad, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 7.

Video: Previewing the series between the Ducks and Preds

Much of Nashville's core remains the same, however, and it has confidence that stems not only from winning that series but winning three games on the road to do it.

"Well, we beat them," forward Ryan Johansen said. "We found a way to beat them and there's just confidence through that. They don't really have any new faces in there other than [Patrick Eaves] and I'm not sure when he's going to be back [from a lower-body injury]. For our group, we're going to go in there with confidence in the way we play and the way we can play, and get some results." 

The Predators are coming off of a tight, physical series against the St. Louis Blues in the second round, which they won in six games. They expect the same against the Ducks.

"We're assuming it'll be pretty similar," Johansen said. "We know what to expect from playing them last year as well. I don't think there will be any surprises going over to Anaheim." 

The main message to the Predators from coach Peter Laviolette has been to stick with the process that has been successful.

Video: Stu Grimson on Predators' playoff success

"We're excited to get going and start working," Laviolette said. "Guys have worked hard to get to this point. We want to just keep working hard. I think the most important thing is that we just keep our head down and keep doing the work." 

Fisher said, "As far as this group here, we really believe in who we are as a team and that's come a long way. I know a lot of people didn't at the start of these playoffs, but we did inside, and we've got to continue to build that.

"We're playing a great opponent, but we've got a great opportunity."

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