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Five keys for Predators vs. Ducks, Game 2

Anaheim needs to get tougher; Nashville must stay out of penalty box

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM - The Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators play Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series at Honda Center on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, FS-TN, FS-W, TVA Sports). Predators lead, 1-0.

Here are five keys for Game 2:

1. Bring the hits: The Ducks feel they didn't live up to their reputation as a big, physical team in Game 1. Nashville hit hard and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau felt his team didn't push back hard enough. 

"They pushed it to the limit," Boudreau said. "That's the way they play and we've got to understand that. We've played a lot of big heavy teams in the West out here and they're no different. I thought we can do better in the physical department."

The Predators are expecting the Ducks to come at them much harder.

"I thought both teams came out physical and a little bit chippy too, but that's just kind of the playoffs," Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "But they're going to ramp it up and hopefully we can ramp it up."

 Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Ellis denies potential go-ahead goal

2. Play between the whistles: With increased physicality comes increased emotions. The Predators generate the most offense 5-on-5 and are aware of the challenge the Anaheim special teams bring. 

Nashville wants to stay out of the penalty box and make sure the physical plays aren't detrimental. 

"I think 5-on-5, we do a lot of things that are good," defenseman Anthony Bitetto said. "We're fast on the puck, we're moving and when we execute, we're a dangerous team. When we do those things 5-on-5, we're successful. And we can't take dumb penalties and take ourselves out of it. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot. I think if we play a clean, hard game we'll be all right." 

3. Contain Nashville's top line: While it wasn't necessarily a poor performance on the part of the Ducks' best defensive line, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg didn't get the results they wanted against the Predators top line of Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen and James Neal. Neal scored on the first shift of the game and Kesler had his hands full with Johansen. 

"I don't think we played our game as a line," Cogliano said. "I think they dominated us in all respects and it's not really making a game plan against them, it's just playing our game. It's about how our line has been used to playing and usually our line has been pretty good. We're tough to defend and we usually do a good job of checking. We just need to get back to how we play."

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

4. Move the puck: In Game 1, the Ducks were bottled up through the neutral zone and their entries were sloppy. They were forced to ice the puck frequently, which limited Anaheim's ability to match lines. 

"We've just got to simplify things," Cogliano said. "They play a good system in the neutral zone and we've got to do a good job in terms of getting pucks past them and the only way we can do that is to move it when they're not set up." 

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Getzlaf finds the rebound for PPG

5. Get to the net: Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he was happy with the way his team went to the net in the third period but they should have done it more in the first two. Overall, the Predators were satisfied with their net presence but would like to get a few more bodies in front of goalie John Gibson and in front of their own goalie, Pekka Rinne, to win the greasy battles. 

"You always want to win that area on both sides of the ice," Bitetto said. "You always want more. But yeah, we were pretty happy with it."

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