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Slow start derails Ducks in Game 1 loss to Predators

Anaheim outshot 46-29 at home in Western Conference Final

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- John Gibson had the sound and look of a world-weary player.

You wouldn't think it would be possible since the Anaheim Ducks goaltender is 23 years old and is in the first long playoff run of his NHL career. Gibson was meeting with the media not long after the Nashville Predators secured a 3-2 win in overtime in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Friday. 

James Neal had the winner, at 9:24 of overtime, and his shot from the left circle went in off Ducks forward Corey Perry, who was in front of Gibson.


[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Predators series coveragePredators again off to good start with Game 1 OT win]


Another night, another bizarre goal.

"It's been going on all playoffs," Gibson said. "So no different."

The flukes, the odd bounces and goals off teammates would test the patience of even a seasoned veteran. Gibson made an NHL postseason career-high 43 saves and was especially busy through the first 40 minutes. Nashville outshot Anaheim 15-6 after one period, 32-17 after two and 46-29 in the game.

"You can see the shots, they were coming pretty hard there," defenseman Sami Vatanen said. "We didn't have the skating legs maybe going at that time. [Gibson] made huge saves and kept us in the game and after that it opened up. He's been good this year, like all our goalies."

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said they can't afford to have a slow start in Game 2 on Sunday.

"We were pretty inept in what we were doing and we were receiving the game," Carlyle said. "Our goaltender should get full credit for keeping us in the game."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Carlyle on tough OT loss in Game 1

The Predators had a great chance to take the lead in the third period with the game tied 2-2. Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf was called for delay of game [puck over glass] at 9:57 and forward Nate Thompson was assessed the same penalty at 10:30.

Nashville had a two-man advantage for 1:28 but couldn't convert. The Ducks had a stellar penalty-killing sequence in which defenseman Cam Fowler blocked a Roman Josi shot, center Ryan Kesler blocked a P.K. Subban shot and Gibson denied another Josi scoring bid. 

Carlyle described himself as a "traditionalist" when it comes to the automatic delay of game penalty.

"I think that it's a real tough penalty to be called," he said. "From my personal perspective, I would rather not see it in the game because it puts too much pressure in situations, as we just experienced. 

"We didn't get burned by it tonight but it definitely can be a difference-maker, and you start talking about difference-makers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it can make the difference of going on and playing in the next round versus not."

The Ducks' penalty-killing effort ignited the Honda Center crowd and it got even more spirited and nosier when Nashville forward Ryan Johansen went off at 14:06 for slashing Kesler.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm1: Gibson lunges across to deny Josi

The Ducks have been floundering on the power play in the playoffs [5 for 40, 12.5 percent] and couldn't get the go-ahead goal. They went 0 for 4 against the Predators and Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm addressed the loss of momentum after the failure on their final power play.

"I don't know how many power plays we had tonight but we have to get some momentum from that," Lindholm said. "Or at least play good, so our guys get going and try to get one in. When you kill a 5-on-3 like that, and then you get a power play yourself, you need to [score]. That's where you have the ball in your hand."

Or the puck on your stick. But you get the general idea.

So it's back to more heavy lifting for the Ducks. They lost the first two games at home in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers and took back home ice by winning twice at Edmonton.

Vatanen said they will call upon their poise and experience … again.

"We have a confident group here," he said. "We don't let the gas [pedal] off in what we want to do. We just keep doing the same things and we never start to hesitate in this locker room. We just keep going and we know we can come back."

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