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Conference Final

Coach's analysis: Predators dominated Ducks, deserved Game 3 victory

Former NHL assistant Perry Pearn says Nashville outplayed Anaheim, took advantage of late penalty to win

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

For additional insight into the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Perry Pearn to break down the action from the Predators' perspective. Pearn will be checking in throughout the series.

Pearn, 65, has worked 22 seasons as an NHL assistant with the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets. He began his NHL career as an assistant in Winnipeg in 1995-96.

 

NASHVILLE -- Closer examination of Game 3 of the Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday leads to one conclusion: The Predators more than earned their 2-1 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, former NHL assistant Perry Pearn said.

"When you look at the way that game went [Tuesday] night, the end result was clearly the fair result," Pearn said. "Nashville outplayed Anaheim the full 60 minutes of the game, so for them to get the result the way they did was pretty significant.

"Had [the Predators] lost, it would have been a tough loss to swallow given how well they played."

Pearn said defenseman Roman Josi's game-winning power-play goal with 2:43 remaining in the third period was a huge moment for Nashville in this series.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm3: Josi buries PPG for late lead

"A careless kind of penalty for the Ducks, and those are the kind you want to take advantage of," Pearn said of the high-sticking call against Anaheim center Chris Wagner. "Flip the scenario back a period and look at the fact that Anaheim took advantage of the instigator penalty [to Predators forward Cody McLeod in the second period], so Nashville taking advantage is even more significant."

Pearn was particularly impressed with the focus the Predators showed in the third period, which began with the Ducks leading 1-0.

"Nashville did a good job in a lot of areas [Tuesday] night, but the fact that they stayed focused and stayed on point and kept pressing in the third period given the circumstances as far as losing two goals they thought they had," he said. "That's an excellent sign."

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm3: Perry scores PPG on sharp-angle shot

The Predators had two apparent goals waved off because of goalie interference. Each call was the correct one, Pearn said.

"In my opinion, they were good calls by officials," Pearn said. "I think the [Nashville defenseman Mattias] Ekholm play … you want a guy to drive to the net, but you have to protect the goalies in the NHL. If Ekholm scores on his attack, there's no penalty and there's a goal. He didn't score, and you can't follow through and run into the goalie. If we let that happen, we won't have enough goalies.

"I've always tried to look at those situations when there's been a call against the team I'm coaching; if I'm coaching, how would I react to make sure I've got right perspective? So I flip that over; if [Ducks center] Ryan Kesler had driven the net and run over [Nashville goalie Pekka] Rinne and Anaheim scored on the rebound, Nashville wouldn't have been happy with it.

"On the first play, the Nashville player (forward Harry Zolnierczyk) had the ability to not run into the goalie. He put himself in that position. But having said all that, the fact Nashville went to the net as hard as they did [Tuesday] night was a key element to winning the game. Of all the things Nashville did well, that was maybe the most significant thing, how hard they went to the net away from the puck."

Nashville's 40-20 advantage in shots on goal was an important indicator, Pearn said.

"Look closer and you see Nashville defensemen had 21 shots on goal, more than the whole Anaheim team," he said. "It's a sign they had their cycle game going and were able to use that wide split defense that they like, and their defensemen were getting pucks to net."

Game 3 also marked another great start for the Predators, something they've accomplished in each of the three games of the series. It's a great position to be in, Pearn said.

"If Nashville continues to do that, it puts Anaheim in a real tough situation, always trying to fight back from a first period where you've been outplayed," he said.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm3: Forsberg lifts rebound past Gibson

Another subtle positive for the Predators was coach Peter Laviolette's recognition that forward Filip Forsberg was on his game.

"Laviolette did a good job in the third period getting Forsberg back on the ice, switching the line rotation a bit to get him out there," Pearn said. "It generated momentum for Nashville, and that grew as the period progressed. That created an opportunity to come back in the game."

Tactically, the Predators power play finally broke through with an important goal in the series, Josi's game-winner, after going 0-for-11 to start the series.

"Nashville did a better job [on that] last power play, moved the puck quicker and weren't horsing around," Pearn said. "It's what makes most successful power plays successful, that you shoot the puck. Sometimes they have overpassed, held the puck, given the penalty-killers no time to adjust.

"That, I'm sure, is one of the things the coaches will be selling, making sure we get pucks to net because that's how we'll beat these guys."

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