Game Four: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators (NSH Leads Series 2-1)
7 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena | Tickets
TV: FS-TN, NHL Network | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 6:30 P.M.
The Nashville Predators are looking to bounce back at home and take a 3-1 series lead tonight in Game Four of their Western Conference First Round series against the Anaheim Ducks. The Preds fell 3-0 in Game Three at Bridgestone Arena after winning the first two games of the series in Anaheim.
The Preds weren't pleased with their effort in Game Three and are hoping to deliver a win in front of their fans before heading back to California for Game Five.
“We know we’re up in the series here, but it still puts a bad taste in our mouth going forward,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “We were unhappy with the way we played, and especially in front of our home crowd after two great games in Anaheim, so we’re just looking at coming out with a much better effort. We know this could be a long series, so for us to be successful, we have to get back to our identity.”
The Preds outshot the Ducks 27-21 in Game Three and also won the face-off battle, claiming 52 percent of the draws. Captain Shea Weber skated in his 48th career postseason contest, surpassing David Legwand for the top spot on the all-time franchise playoff games played list. Forward Craig Smith, who left Game Three and did not return, is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Weber, who has 11 postseason goals all-time, is just two away from tying Legwand as the franchise's all-time leader in the category. Weber scored the game-winning goal on the power play in Game Two for the Preds, a 3-2 win at the Honda Center.
Filip Forsberg (1g-2a) and Roman Josi (3a) pace the team in scoring this postseason, with six different players posting a goal. Forsberg, Weber, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, James Neal and Mattias Ekholm have all found the back of the net in the series. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has a 2.35 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage so far through three games.
Andrew Cogliano leads the Ducks with three points (1g-2a) in three games. Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Stewart, Nate Thompson and Jamie McGinn have all scored for the Ducks thus far. Goaltender Frederik Andersen started for the first time in the 2016 postseason in Game Three, stopping all 27 shots he faced.
Nashville is looking to go up 3-1 in a series for the second time in team history. The club had a 3-1 series lead in 2012 against the Detroit Red Wings and went on to defeat them in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in five games. The Preds have a 2-1 series record all-time when winning two of the first three games of a series.
If there’s a bright side to the hours and days following a playoff loss, it’s that there’s often another chance to get right back to work against the same opponent. The Nashville Predators have owned their mistakes in Game Three on Tuesday, a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and quickly added they know they can - and will be - better in Game Four.
Up 2-1 in the First Round series, a victory on home ice tonight would give Nashville a commanding edge in the best-of-seven set.
“I think everyone felt a little [angry] after that game, that’s not the way we play and that’s not who we are,” Mattias Ekholm said Thursday morning. “I think tonight it’s going to be a totally different game from us coming out. I can speak for myself, I want to try and redeem myself. We didn’t score a goal, we didn’t do much out there, so we have to be better for sure.”
The lead position in the driver’s seat still remains in Nashville’s possession, and much like they said after wins in Games One and Two, the Predators say the results in a postseason contest have to be forgotten about quickly. The team caught staring into the past can often be overrun in the opening minutes of the next clash.
“Every game is important; it almost speaks to itself, simple math, 3-1 or 2-2, it’s a big game, they realize it the same way, and I would think it’s going to be a pretty good hockey game tonight,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Both teams know where they’re at, and the importance of trying to get a win.”
“I think the start is always important for us and to any team,” said Ekholm. “Especially in front of our home fans and in our building even in the warmups and intro, I thought the crowd was amazing. We really wanted to help them explode and it didn’t happen for us in the last game. Everyone wants to give it back to the fans and try to make them have a nice game, and for us to get a win tonight would be huge.”
Emotions Rise High:
Four years after being drafted by Nashville in the second round, forward Colton Sissons knows he could be on the cusp of making his 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut.
The time of year when everything seems heightened in excitement and importance, Sissons said on Thursday his emotions won’t be far behind should he take to the Bridgestone Arena ice at some point during the series.
“They’ll be pretty high, hopefully I can keep them in check,” Sissons said. “This is the time of year where everybody wants to play, you’ve worked all year for it, and it would be my first taste, so it would be very exciting.
“There will be a surge of adrenaline the first couple shifts or so, hopefully I can just get my legs under me and get involved physically, that always seems to get me into the game and sets me in the right frame of mind.”
Game Five on Saturday in Anaheim between the Predators and Ducks will take place at either 2 p.m. (CT) or 5 p.m. (CT); the outcome of tonight’s playoff games will determine which time slot is chosen.
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The plaza party, featuring the smash car, begins at 4:00 p.m. (CT). Fans attending Game Four will receive Jaguar Land Rover Thundersticks.