Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15). UPI/Mark Goldman | License Photo
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With reporters surrounding him in the middle of the Anaheim Ducks' locker room, captain Ryan Getzlaf was asked if the home team would ever win a game in his team's Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Nashville Predators.
"I hope it's us on Saturday," he said.
Anaheim will get that chance while standing on level ground in the best-of-seven series after using a pair of late goals in the second period Thursday night to bust a tie and pave its way to a 4-1 decision at Bridgestone Arena.
Seemingly on their way to a quick, ignominious exit from the postseason after losing 3-2 in each of the first two games of the series in the Honda Center, the Ducks responded with mostly textbook road hockey, quieting sellout crowds with the first goal in each game and mostly choking off Nashville's attack.
Aside from Mike Fisher's goal at 11:26 of the second period that capped an extended stretch of one-sided play that saw the Predators gain a 12-1 advantage in shots on goal, Anaheim largely frustrated them by getting sticks or bodies in seemingly every passing or shooting lane.
At times, it had all five defenders in the slot, forcing Nashville to settle for long-range shots or make passes that led to dead ends.
"We wanted to defend first," Ducks center Nate Thompson said. "You saw it from guys tonight. Everyone was in tight and blocking shots. It was air-tight. That's how we've won games all year."
Anaheim blocked 25 shots and killed six penalties, making it 18 for 19 while shorthanded in the series. The Ducks snuffed out two Nashville power plays in the third period's first 11 1/2 minutes, allowing only three shots and blocking four others in front of goaltender Frederik Anderson.
By then, Anaheim had taken control, frustrating the Predators and a sellout crowd of 17,232 with a surge over the second period's final 2:56.
After surviving a barrage of shots during a 4-on-4 sequence following minors five seconds apart, Nashville appeared headed for a man advantage at 15:55 when Simon Despres was whistled for slashing Viktor Arvidsson. But the officials called Arvidsson for embellishment, enraging the fans.
The building became more sullen when Thompson potted the go-ahead marker with a wrister over the left shoulder of goalie Pekka Rinne at 17:04, capping another dominant stretch of 4-on-4 by the Ducks.
"I thought everyone was good 4-on-4 tonight," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It was a really good play by Nate to delay that extra half-second (before shooting)."
Jamie McGinn made it 3-1 at 18:56 by batting the rebound of Chris Stewart's shot out of mid-air for his second goal in as many games. It came after another critical Predators mistake, a failed clearing pass by Miikka Salomaki.
Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said that the tiebreaking goal after the slashing/embellishment calls was the game's key juncture.
"We have to respond better to adversity in that situation," he said. "We have to find a way to turn the momentum back in our direction than we did."
The Predators chased the game most of the night after giving up a rebound goal by Getzlaf 1:02 into the first period. James Neal's decision to throw a check in the offensive zone led to a 4-on-2 rush by Anaheim, and Getzlaf poked the puck home from under Rinne's pad after he stopped David Perron's shot.
Ducks center Andrew Cogliano capped the scoring at 16:52 with his second goal of the series, sending the crowd into a rainy night.
Andersen finished with 30 saves, while Rinne kicked out 21 of 25 shots.
Laviolette said he believes Nashville will be ready to play Game 5 on Saturday.
"The playoffs go back-and-forth," he said. "You're going to have ups and downs. I liked the effort tonight but not the results."
NOTES: Nashville RW Craig Smith (lower-body), who was injured on the first shift of Game 3, was scratched for Game 4 with C Colton Sissons drawing into the lineup for his first playoff game. ... Anaheim signed 2013 third-round draft pick Keaton Thompson, a defenseman at North Dakota, to a three-year entry-level contract. ... Ducks scratches were Ds Clayton Stoner, Korbinian Holzer and Josh Manson, Cs Brandon Pirri and Mike Santorelli, and RW Chris Wagner. ... The Predators also scratched D Petter Granberg, along with LWs Eric Nystrom, Austin Watson and Gabriel Bourque.