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Forsberg lifts Predators to Game 1 win

Third-period goal helps Nashville get past Anaheim

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Filip Forsberg has scored plenty of pretty goals in his young NHL career.

His third-period goal Friday in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round wasn't one of them, but it lifted the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.

Forsberg's attempted pass to Craig Smith from the left faceoff circle hit Ducks defenseman Shea Theodore's skate near the crease and got past goalie John Gibson to put the Predators ahead for good at 10:25 of the third period.

It was the 21-year-old's fifth career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in his seventh postseason game.

"On to the second, we kind of got our legs going," Predators forward James Neal said. "I think that's when we started to feel good about our game. We had a great third, and Filip scored a huge goal, made a great play trying to get it to [Smith], and when you're going to the net, good things happen."

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Forsberg's dish deflects in for lead

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Honda Center on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, FS-TN, FS-W).

Gibson, making his first postseason start since Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Second Round, made 30 saves. His performance didn't draw rave reviews, but there wasn't any one player that Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau could single out as having played a good game.

Boudreau said he was displeased by the Ducks' lack of effort and physicality.

"We didn't play as well as we needed to play in order to be successful, and there's no doubt," Boudreau said. "We can all play better. I think there's not one guy that played great tonight, so we can all play better."

The Predators struck early when they took advantage of a sloppy start by the Ducks in their own end. Anaheim defenseman Simon Despres failed to clear a loose puck, and Nashville center Ryan Johansen poked it to James Neal near the edge of the left circle for a shot that beat Gibson through the five-hole 35 seconds into the game.

Anaheim's slow start continued until late in the period when a 5-on-3 power play gave them a burst of momentum. Predators defenseman Anthony Bitetto was called for holding the stick at 16:15, and Shea Weber cross-checked Ducks forward David Perron into the ends boards 35 seconds later.

Ryan Getzlaf scored with 2:21 left in the period when he cleaned up a rebound to tie it 1-1.

Ryan Kesler scored to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot through traffic 48 seconds into the second period. It was his fourth goal in his past five playoff games.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Cogliano finds Kesler for the lead

The Predators kept coming at the Ducks, though, and Colin Wilson scored to tie it 2-2 when he reached out with one hand on his stick to redirect Ryan Ellis' pass by Gibson on a rush at 7:55.

"I thought the beginning of the second period, after we scored the goal to take a lead, they took it to us pretty good for about 10 minutes," Boudreau said. "Then they got the tip goal, and it sort of changed the momentum all around."

Jamie McGinn nearly gave Anaheim the lead with 2:26 left in the second period, but Ellis dove into the net to make the save.

"I felt it hit me, but I didn't know where it was," Ellis said. "I figured lie down and hopefully it's underneath me. [Rinne] recovered really well and he ended up covering it. I was there as a last measure."

Ellis was an unsung hero for Nashville with those two plays.

"He had a really nice play and really played a real strong game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "The one that he kept out of the net was almost a little bit more fluky than anything else. I'm not sure when he went down in the net that was the plan, but he just found himself there and was able to put up a wall right on the goal line."

Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson left the game with an upper-body injury after he was hit by Forsberg following a shot late the first period. Forsberg was not called for a penalty.

Video: Forsberg, Rinne lead Predators in Game 1 win

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