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Game Two: Preds vs. Ducks

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

  Game Two: Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks (NSH Leads Series 1-0)
  9:30 P.M. (CT) | Honda Center
TV: FS-TN, NBCSN | Radio: 102.5 The Game | Pregame: 9 P.M. (CT)

After a 3-2 victory in Game One, the Nashville Predators look to take another in Anaheim as they face the Ducks in Game Two tonight at Honda Center. The series shifts back to Nashville on Tuesday, but the Preds are looking to take their first 2-0 series lead in franchise history.

“We’ll have our work cut out for us in Game Two,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said on Friday. “The challenge will be to go back and look at things to see what we can do better, and I’m sure they’ll do the same thing. To get off to the right start is a good thing. There’s so much hockey left to be played.”

Preds winger James Neal scored 35 seconds into the game to give the team a 1-0 lead, the second fastest to start a playoff game in franchise history. The fastest was by Adam Hall, who scored 16 seconds into Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Detroit in 2004. Neal led both teams with nine shots in the contest and also posted five hits in Game One. The nine shots tied a franchise record for shots in a playoff game.

Winger Filip Forsberg scored his fifth-career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and first game-winner. He has seven points (5g-2a) in seven career playoff games. Ryan Johansen, who assisted on Neal's tally in Game One, also posted his seventh-career playoff point (2g-5a) in his seventh postseason contest. Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 27-of-29 shots in the contest to earn his 16th-career playoff victory.

Forward Colin Wilson scored Nashville's second goal in Game One against the Ducks, giving him eight points in 20 career playoff games (7g-1a). Six of those goals have occurred his last eight 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.

At 46 career playoff games, Predators Captain Shea Weber is one game shy of tying David Legwand for most postseason games played in team history. Weber also ranks third in franchise playoff points (10g-11a), behind Legwand and Erat, and is second in goals.

This is the second time the Predators and Ducks have met in the Stanley Cup 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 that 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 the 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).

"They May Have Another Gear, But We Do Too"

Game One couldn’t have started any better for the Nashville Predators. It took 35 seconds for James Neal to tally the first goal and set the Preds up for an eventual 3-2 win on Friday night for a 1-0 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks.

But even if the Predators aren’t able to tally within the opening minutes of Game Two tonight at Honda Center in Anaheim, there are still things the club will want to accomplish to ensure a quality start.

“We know they’re going to come out tonight in the first period with purpose, and we’re going to have to match that,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. “We need clean breakouts and maybe get some offensive time on them, and then grind some forechecks and some cycles on them. We just need to be ready from the start, and it’s going to be huge tonight.”

Head Coach Peter Laviolette predominantly liked what he saw from his team in the opening stanza of Game One, but would prefer to see the Predators spend less time in the box early on – not only to avoid having to defend Anaheim’s top-ranked power play (during the regular season), but also for his own team to get into a rhythm of their own.

“I thought we were good in the first period, but I think where we got into a little bit of trouble is just the penalties that we took in the first,” Laviolette said. “It took the roll out of the bench. we couldn’t get a rhythm, we end up using certain players too much, players are sitting on the bench, and that takes away maybe from the first four or five minutes of the game.”

The Preds know things won’t get any easier from here, and they’re preparing for an early push from the Ducks from the outset of Game Two.

“They’re talking about how they have another gear, but I feel like we do as well,” Ekholm said. “Just the importance of understanding that; we came out on the winning end in Game One, which was awesome for us, but it’s a totally new hockey game. They’re going to be even more desperate now, and we’ve got to match that.”

Laviolette is always cognizant of not looking too far into the future, and as a coach who has been to the Stanley Cup Final twice in his career, his experience is particularly beneficial at this time of the year. The Preds already have one win away from home, and they know there’s plenty of work to do if they want to return to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history.

“I’ve sat on both sides of big leads and lost leads; I’ve been there on both ways, and there’s no guarantee on anything, not until you get a fourth win in the books,” Laviolette said. “It’s probably best to go slow and not focus on the percentages too much. I think if you start looking at yesterday’s news or looking too far down the road and getting ahead of yourself, you get yourself in trouble. It’s probably best just to stay in the day. They’ll be ready to play today, and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to play as well.”

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