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Game One: Preds vs. Ducks

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game One: Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks (Series Tied 0-0)
  9:30 P.M. (CT) | Honda Center
TV: FS-TN, NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 9 P.M. (CT)

The quest for the Stanley Cup begins tonight in Southern California for the Nashville Predators. The Preds and Anaheim Ducks commence their series with Game One at the Honda Center, the last of the eight series of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to get underway.

Nashville last played on Saturday night, giving them a full five-plus days to prepare for the Ducks. It's the second consecutive season the Predators have made an appearance in the postseason under the guidance of Head Coach Peter Laviolette.

“Our guys will be ready to play; we’ve had lots of preparation, we’ve had a couple of good practices and it’ll be exciting, it’ll be fun,” Laviolette said. “It’s Game One of the playoffs. If you can’t get excited for that, it’s hard to get excited about anything. That’s what you play all year for, and now we have that opportunity to get into Game One, so it’s an exciting time.”

This is the second time the Predators and Ducks have met in the playoffs; the two teams previously skated against each other in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals, with Nashville claiming the series in six games (4-2). It was the first time the team won a series in franchise history. Nashville won Games One, Three, Five and Six, winning the fifth game in overtime. In each of those contests, the Preds were able to score at least three goals, posting four goals in each of the wins. Mike Fisher led the team in scoring with six points (3g-3a). Joel Ward and Shea Weber also posted three goals in the series.

Laviolette enters the 2016 postseason having coached in the sixth-most playoff games among current playoff coaches. He has 88 games on his record, posting a 45-43 mark, which includes capturing the 2006 Stanley Cup as the bench boss for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Eighteen members of the Preds have played in at least one playoff game, including four who have previously skated against the Ducks (Fisher (with Nashville at Ottawa), Mike Ribeiro (with Dallas), Weber and Pekka Rinne). Fisher is the most senior member of the Preds, having played in 100 career playoff games. He's also the only member of the team to make it to the Stanley Cup Final (2007 with Ottawa). Five Preds have never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Viktor Arvidsson, Anthony Bitetto, Petter Granberg, Colton Sissons and Austin Watson).

Winger Filip Forsberg led the team in goals (33) and points (64) during the regular season, tying Jason Arnott for the single-season goals record (2008-09). Defenseman Roman Josi set the franchise record for most points by a defensemen in a single season, tallying 61 points in 81 games (14g-47a).

Six different players notched 50 points (Forsberg, Josi, Ryan Johansen, James Neal, Weber, Ribeiro). The Preds tied for the NHL lead in defensive scoring, posting 203 points (55g-148a). No team's defense corps scored more goals than Nashville. Rinne amassed a 34-21-10 record on the season, the fifth time he's won at least 30 games in his career.

Ryan Getzlaf led the Ducks in scoring with 63 points during the regular season, one point ahead of Corey Perry with 62. Perry potted 34 goals for the Ducks, followed by Ryan Kesler with 21. Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg each recorded 20 goals for Anaheim. John Gibson posted a 21-13-4 record in net for Anaheim; Frederik Andersen went 22-9-7.

Game Two of the series will take place on Sunday night in Anaheim before the series shifts to Nashville for Games Three and Four on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

After a couple of extra practices a few thousand miles away from home, it’s finally time. Game One between the Nashville Predators and Ducks comes tonight from the Honda Center in Anaheim, the last of the eight opening round series of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to begin.

The break left plenty of time for the Preds to prepare for their opponent, and now, after a week of practices and meetings, the real thing has arrived.

“We’re very excited in here,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said Friday morning. “It’s a couple more days than we thought we’d get off, but rest is always a good thing. We’re looking to get a strong start out of the gate, and so are they, so it’s going to be a tough first period.”

Waking up on the morning of Game One for a hockey player has, at times, been likened to a young child rising on Christmas morning. The excitement is plentiful, as well as a few other emotions.

“Everyone is a little nervous, but if you weren’t, there’d be something wrong with you - but you’re also excited,” Ellis said. “We got a taste of it last year in Chicago during the playoffs, and it’s a different animal in Anaheim. It’s going to be a great series.”

Win or lose on Friday night, the Preds also know someone has to win four games before a winner is declared. Finding the right way to keep the emotions in check is something the club is focused on, especially with another year of postseason experience throughout most of the lineup.

“We thought we played a strong series against a team that eventually won the Cup last season; it was challenging at both ends of the ice and there were a lot of highs and lows in that series,” Ellis said. “In a lot of playoff series, that’s the way it goes. You can’t get too high too low, but Game One, everyone’s excited in here and looking for a strong effort.”

To see the list of official viewing parties happening throughout Middle Tennessee, click here
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