Game Three: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators (NSH Leads Series 2-0)
8:30 P.M. | Bridgestone Arena
TV: FS-TN, USA | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 8 P.M.
After winning both games on the road in Anaheim, the Nashville Predators return home tonight as they host the Ducks in Game Three of their Western Conference Round One matchup.
The Preds have a 2-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history, beating the Ducks 3-2 in both Games One and Two. Mattias Ekholm, Craig Smith and Shea Weber all scored for the Preds in Game Two on Sunday night in Anaheim, while goaltender Pekka Rinne made 27 saves to earn his 17th career playoff victory.
While the Preds are pleased with their results in California, they still believe they have plenty of room for improvement and know they're still two wins away from taking the series.
“We know there’s a lot of work to do,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said after Game Two. “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t finish it and follow it up. We have to keep working, keep an eye on what we’re doing here and just keep moving forward.”
At 47 career playoff games, Weber is one game shy of passing David Legwand for most postseason games played in team history. Weber also ranks third in franchise playoff points (11g-11a), behind Legwand and Martin Erat, and is second in goals.
Forward Colin Wilson scored a goal in Game One against the Anaheim Ducks and added an assist in Game Two, giving him nine points in 21 career playoff games (7g-2a). Six of those goals have occurred in his last nine postseason contests, including five during last season's Western Conference Quarterfinal against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson's seven playoff goals (all as a member of the Preds) now rank him in the Top Five of playoff goals in franchise history.
With two assists in Game Two, Filip Forsberg has nine points (5g-4a) in eight career playoff games. Ryan Johansen's assist in Game One gives him seven points (2g-5a) in eight career postseason appearances.
Forsberg (1g-2a) and Roman Josi (3a) pace the team in scoring through the first two games of the 2016 postseason, with six different players posting a goal. Forsberg, Wilson, Weber, Ekholm, Smith and James Neal have all tallied for the Preds. Rinne has a 2.00 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage so far in the series.
Andrew Cogliano has one goal and two assists to lead the Ducks through the first two games. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Nate Thompson have also scored for Anaheim. Goaltender John Gibson has allowed three goals in each of his two appearances.
Teams that go up 2-0 in a playoff series have gone on to win 254-of-291 times in the NHL, or 87.2 percent of the time. The Ducks have never won a series when trailing 2-0, losing all six series, most recently in 2014 against the Los Angeles Kings when they lost in seven games.
Electric Home Crowd Awaits:
In a few hours time, Bridgestone Arena is going to be rockin’.
The Nashville Predators, up 2-0 in their playoff series to boot, will host their first game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Anointed in Gold, the arena sits empty now, awaiting more than 17,000 Preds fans to cheer on the team they’ve watched steal two games in California over the weekend.
Leading a playoff round 2-0 for the first time in franchise history, Preds players are expecting a little bit more from their supports that help make up one of the loudest venues in the NHL.
“For sure, from past years and experiences in playoffs, it hits a whole other level in this building,” Mike Fisher said following the Predators morning skate on Tuesday. “We can’t wait to feed off the energy of the crowd and get a good start here at home… We know all our fans are going to be jacked up, we’re excited to see it tonight”
“I’m sure this building is going to be [electric],” forward Cody Bass said. “It’s a loud building to play in, it’s a fun atmosphere. I think for our group we have to control our emotions, come out hard, smart and stay disciplined.”
While the Preds certainly plan on using the electricity within their home office to their advantage, they also maintain that they haven’t accomplished anything just yet. The sentiment from the Nashville room is that while the 2-0 series lead is ideal, they still expect another push from the Ducks, something the Preds have to be prepared for from the opening puck drop tonight.
“We’re focusing on this game and this game only, nothing outside of the series,” Fisher said. “We know how important this game is for both teams. They’re going to be flying tonight and will be desperate. We have to match that desperation and play harder than we did in Game Two.”
A 3-0 series lead is appetizing, and the Preds are hoping to use both the preparation within the locker room, combined with the passion of their fans to get club one step closer to their goal.
“We played a couple of solid road games, we had some timely scoring and great goaltending when we needed it, but that being said, we realize we have to continue to get better if we want to win the series,” Fisher said. “We have to be better here at home in Game Three. We’re expecting their best tonight.”
Predators Game Day Video:Preds Players: Mike Fisher, Roman Josi and Cody Bass
Coach Presser: Head Coach Peter Laviolette
Notes: The playoff plaza party outside Bridgestone Arena begins at 5:30 p.m. (CT). All fans in attendance on Tuesday night will receive a special playoff t-shirt. Due to the 8:30 p.m. (CT) game start time, doors to the arena will open at 6:30 p.m.