After splitting Games One and Two of the Western Conference Final, the series between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks now shifts to Bridgestone Arena, beginning tonight with Game Three.
Nashville came away a winner in overtime courtesy of a tally from James Neal before falling in Game Two of the series by a 5-3 final. Neal scored again in Game Two and Ryan Johansen recorded a goal and assist, his third consecutive multipoint outing.
The Preds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game Two, but a late first-period goal for the Ducks, followed by three more in the second, gave them their first victory of the series. Now the Preds return home for the first-ever conference final game in Nashville.
"It's the loudest building I've played in the NHL," defenseman P.K. Subban said of Bridgestone Arena. "I can't say enough about our fan base and the community and the state of Tennessee and the city of Nashville on how they supported us through this run so far. And I would expect that to continue."
Johansen leads the Predators in points with 13, followed by Filip Forsberg with 10. Defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis have nine points apiece, while Subban has eight. Forsberg and James Neal lead the club with five goals, while Josi and Ellis have each potted four. Pekka Rinne is 9-3 in these playoffs and continues to lead the League in goals-against average (1.62) and save percentage (.942).
With three assists in Game Two, Ryan Getzlaf upped his point total to 18 in these playoffs for the Ducks, followed by Jakob Silfverberg with 13 and Rickard Rakell with 10. Silfverberg has scored nine goals in the postseason; Getzlaf has eight and Rakell has six. John Gibson won his eighth game of the playoffs on Sunday and has a .911 save percentage.
Video: Preds prepare to host first Conference Final game
As the Predators prepare to host their first conference final game in team history, here are three things to watch for:
A number of franchise records for the Stanley Cup Playoffs have been rewritten recently for the Preds, and two more are up for grabs tonight.
With a goal and an assist in Game Two, Ryan Johansen tied the Nashville franchise record for points in a single postseason with 13. Johansen joined Colin Wilson (2016 postseason) and Joel Ward (2011 postseason) atop the leaderboard in the category. Game Two was Johansen's third consecutive two-point game and his fourth multi-point game of the 2017 playoffs.
After another goal in Game Two, James Neal now has 13 playoff goals as a member of the Predators, tying him with Shea Weber and David Legwand for first in the category in franchise history. Neal now has five goals in his last seven games.
Video: Ellis, Watson and Josi talk pivotal Game 3
The Predators hit some uncharted territory after Game Two, allowing more than three goals for the first time in the 2017 postseason. Three of Anaheim's five goals in Game Two came in the second period, and goaltender Pekka Rinne said after the contest that he personally needs to be better.
Having said that, the Predators are well aware that Anaheim is in the Western Conference Final for a reason and say they know Anaheim's top players are going to get their chances, it's just a matter of being able to limit their options when they do.
"We didn't have maybe as much playoff experience as some other teams, but I think that a lot of guys have gained experience so far," Subban said. "And composure seems to be a word that we've been using a lot. We've been tested and we've responded well. So for us, we've worked hard to put ourselves in this position and now we have to go and do the work."
Video: Laviolette talks about home-ice advantage
Feels Like The First Time:
Never before has Bridgestone Arena seen an NHL hockey game this late into the spring. For the first time in franchise history, Nashville is set to host a game in the Western Conference Final that will undoubtedly produce one of the more raucous crowds the Preds have ever seen in their home barn.
Nashville has won nine consecutive postseason games at Bridgestone Arena dating back to last year, and if they can use the home crowd to their advantage once more, they could have a chance to go back to Anaheim with a chance to clinch.
"It shouldn't be possible, but [the fans] proved us wrong a lot of times. They can be even louder," Forsberg said. "[I'm] looking forward to [tonight]."
When You Go:
Game Three is presented by Nissan and is set for a 7 p.m. CT start, with doors to Bridgestone Arena scheduled to open at 5 p.m. A Plaza Party presented by Lee Company begins at 4 p.m. and all fans attending tonight's game will receive a rally towel, Gold t-shirt and light-up bracelet.
For further details on Game Three, such as where to watch, visit the Preds Playoff Hub.
Take It In:
Tonight's game can be seen on NBCSN or heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Following the game, tune to Fox Sports Tennessee in the local viewing area for a special edition of Predators Live! Postgame.