The Nashville Predators are a perfect three-for-three when it comes to taking a 1-0 series lead in these playoffs, and they'll try to steal a second meeting from the Anaheim Ducks in Game Two of the Western Conference Final this evening.
It was James Neal who potted the winner in overtime in Game One off a feed from P.K. Subban for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Austin Watson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville in the win and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves to collect his League-leading ninth victory of the postseason. And now they'll try to do it once more.
"Game One is over with now," Watson said. "We got that game, and it was a huge goal in overtime for us to be able to get that, and now we're going to Game Two. We've looked at every game throughout the playoffs as just the next game. We're just focused on Game Two and winning that game, and we'll be ready."
With two assists in Game One, Ryan Johansen now leads the Preds in points once more with 11, including nine helpers overall. Forsberg and Ryan Ellis are tied for second with nine points apiece, followed by defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban with eight points each. Neal, Forsberg, Ellis and Josi are all tied for the team lead in goals with four. Rinne owns a 1.41 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage, both are tops in the League.
Held scoreless in Game One, Ryan Getzlaf still leads the Ducks with 15 points, followed by Jakob Silfverberg with 12 and Rickard Rakell with 10. Getzlaf and Silfverberg have each scored on eight occasions while Rakell has six goals. John Gibson is 7-4 for the Ducks with a .911 save percentage.
As the Preds look for a 2-0 series lead before heading back to Nashville, here are three things to watch for:
Video: Neal, Subban, Josi and Watson talk Game 2
No. 18 Rolling:
James Neal played the role of hero in Game One against Anaheim, something he's been doing a lot of lately, with four goals in his last six postseason outings. When a player like Neal, one of the top goal scorers in the League, gets going, there's sometimes nothing anyone can do to slow him down.
"It gives you confidence," Neal said of his current pace. "Any goal-scorer or anybody that gets a goal, any time in the playoffs, it's emotional. It's an amazing feeling. The way your teammates come after you, how excited the crowd is, just everything about it, it's a lot of fun. It gives you definitely a good boost."
Video: Preds look to take two in Anaheim before heading home
Everyone Gets a Goal:
While they do it more often than most, it can't be Neal or Forsberg scoring every goal at this time of the year. That's where almost the entire roster comes in. A franchise-record 15 players have scored at least once for Nashville in these playoffs, a key contributing factor to their current standing. If the Predators are to keep adding to their win total, they'll need everyone to keep chipping in.
"When you're getting that depth scoring, it helps you win games," Neal said. "I think any time you see a team that goes deep in the playoffs, and that ultimately wins the Stanley Cup, they're getting scoring from everyone that is on the team. Everyone that chips in, like right through to the fourth line, and I think we have that, and like I said before, we have a team that can play all different styles of games. We have guys chipping in from the first game of the playoffs until now, so it's great."
Video: Laviolette talks needed areas of improvement
Bump It Up:
The Predators have undoubtedly deserved the accolades they've received to this point of the postseason, but defenseman P.K. Subban believes his team still has more to give in all facets. Subban and his teammates expect a push from Anaheim tonight, desperate not to give the Preds a 2-0 series lead on the road for the second-straight season.
"I think there's other levels to our game," Subban said. "Last game we played well, we had the start that we wanted to, but I still think we can play a lot better. Was that a full 60 minutes? Maybe not. But it was good enough for us to get the win. I think that we're just going to have to continue to do those little things that have brought us success and attacking and defending as a five-man unit. We have done that stuff extremely well in the playoffs, we just got to get back to it."
Take It In:
Game Two of the Western Conference Final comes with a 6:30 p.m. CT start and can be seen on NBCSN or heard on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.
For details on Game Two and how to watch in Nashville, visit the Predators Playoff Hub.