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Playoff Buzz: Predators look to stay strong at home against Ducks

Nashville enters Game 3 of Western Conference Final with nine straight postseason wins at Bridgestone Arena

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. Game 3 of the Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks is Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Tuesday:

 

5:10 p.m.
Anaheim looks to spoil Nashville's homecoming

There are plenty of interesting talking points entering Game 3 of the Western Conference Final between the Nashville Predators and 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. There's much at stake, particularly when you consider the winner of Game 3 in a 1-1 series holds a series record of 205-99, including 3-2 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Correspondent Robby Stanley has the projected line combinations in his 5 keys to Game 3, including what Ducks forward Ryan Kesler had to say about Predators center Ryan Johansen.

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is hoping to rebound after allowing four goals on 26 shots in a 5-3 loss in Game 2 on Sunday. Staff writer Tim Campbell spoke to a few of Rinne's teammates after practice on Tuesday to get an idea what to expect from the veteran goalie.

RELATED: Fantasy picks for Predators-Ducks Game 3 ]

For more on the series, check out director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke's column on the former Predators from their inaugural 1998-99 season as they enjoy Nashville's deep playoff run.

 

1:18 p.m.
Predators look to gain advantage on home ice

The Nashville Predators look to remain unbeaten at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports). The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

The Predators are 5-0 at home in the playoffs and have won nine consecutive postseason home games, dating to Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference First Round against the Ducks. Correspondent Robby Stanley has the scoop on why the Predators have been so successful at home.

Former Blues coach Davis Payne has been breaking down the Predators and Ducks throughout the series for NHL.com and staff writer Lisa Dillman caught up with him to discuss the intriguing on-ice battle between Ducks forward Ryan Kesler and Predators center Ryan Johansen.

 

11:15 a.m.
Nothing comes easy in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

When the Pittsburgh Penguins won 1-0 against the Ottawa Senators in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final on Monday to even the best-of-7 series 1-1, it marked the 45th one-goal game in 72 games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (62.5 percent).

The NHL record for one-goal games in a single playoff year is 51, set in 81 games in 2007.

If the 2017 playoffs have proven one thing, it's that no lead ever is safe.

 

9:27 a.m.
Phil Kessel comes up big for Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins needed one goal to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final on Monday and forward Phil Kessel was there to deliver it.

Kessel's goal with 6:55 remaining in the third period gave the Penguins the 1-0 win against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena, evening the best-of-7 series at 1-1.

Game 2 was the 45th one-goal game of the 72 games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL record for one-goal games in a single playoff year is 51, set in 81 games in 2007. The Penguins are 4-3 in one-goal games this postseason and the Senators are 8-3.

Game 3 is Wednesday in Ottawa.

Here is look at what happened Monday:

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 1, Ottawa Senators 0

Phil Kessel scored the only goal of the game at 13:05 of the third period to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a much-needed win. Facing the prospect of losing the first two games of the series at home, the Penguins held the Senators in check, allowing 23 shots on goal.

Kessel's goal came after he took a pass from center Evgeni Malkin near the Senators blue line. His first shot was blocked by Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but the puck came right back to Kessel, who fired it past Senators goalie Craig Anderson, who finished with 28 saves.

The Penguins lost forward Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz to injuries during the first period and played the rest of the game with 11 forwards and five defensemen.

Senior Writer Dan Rosen wrote about Kessel's night, which included some animated conversations on the bench.

Staff Writer Amalie Benjamin said the Senators had trouble all night dealing with Penguins.

Video: Penguins blank Senators in Game 2, even series

 

Here are some things we learned on Day 33 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

 

Penguins know how to beat Senators now

If a 1-0 game can feel like a blowout, Game 2 was it. The Penguins controlled the pace of the game from the drop of the puck, and dominated possession too. They still waited a period to truly start pressuring the Senators, but they did in the second period and it was an all-out assault stymied only by the excellent goaltending of the Senators' Craig Anderson. The Penguins still have to shoot more, or at least try to get fewer shots blocked (the Senators blocked 18), but Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury went 18:53 without facing a shot on goal between the second and third period. The Penguins plowed through the Senators' 1-3-1 setup in the neutral zone and dominated the game in the Senators' zone. More of the same could result in breaking Anderson too.

Senators defense can hang with the Penguins

The Penguins came in with a high-powered offense that can do a lot of damage in a little time. But even with the Penguins' surges during Game 2, the Senators defense has been able to hold them to two goals in two games. Even though they managed a split in Pittsburgh and were disappointed in not winning Game 2, that fact has to be heartening for a Senators team that is built and based around a system that needs to work for them to win. It doesn't seem as if the Penguins are going to blow the Senators away in the Eastern Conference Final.

Phil Kessel likes to yell on the bench, a lot

Kessel was seen yelling and screaming, and demonstratively using his hands to get his points across on the bench multiple times during Game 2. "Par for the course," Penguins center Matt Cullen said. Apparently Kessel yells a lot on the bench, especially in a back-and-forth with assistant Rick Tocchet. The players and coach Mike Sullivan seem to like it when Kessel is as vocal as he was in Game 2. They think he helps galvanize the bench and bring energy to it. It didn't hurt that Kessel channeled his emotion into scoring the only goal of the game too.

Dion Phaneuf can pack a punch

Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf was not holding back in Game 2, as he made sure to play a physical game against the Penguins. It was perhaps the most physical game he has played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the hit that knocked Penguins forward Bryan Rust out of the game. "I just stepped up in the middle of the ice," Phaneuf said of the Rust hit. "When there's opportunities during a game and the hit is available, I'm going to step up. That's part of my game, has been for my whole time that I've played." The hits were available Monday, and a motivated and engaged Phaneuf took advantage.

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