Nashville Predators wear down John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks in physical Game 3 win

By John Glennon, The Sports Xchange  |  May 17, 2017 at 9:18 AM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Heading into the third period, the Nashville Predators had yet to find a way to beat Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson after 28 shots.

However, there is something magical about the Predators and sold-out Bridgestone Arena these days.

Nashville broke through with a pair of third-period goals, rallying past the Ducks 2-1 on Tuesday to take a two-games-to-one lead in the Western Conference finals.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Nashville.

It was the sixth straight home playoff win for the Predators, who are the NHL's only unbeaten team at home. Overall, Nashville has won 10 consecutive home playoff games in what has turned into one of the most intimidating arenas in the league.

"Our fans, I really didn't think they could bring it to a new level, but they did tonight," said Predators defenseman Roman Josi, who scored the winning goal with 2:43 remaining. "It helped us so much, especially with those two goals. We have our fans standing up the whole third period, literally, and cheering us on. It gives us the extra boost and the extra energy we needed."

Josi's game-winner was the first power-play goal of the series for Nashville. Mattias Ekholm's initial shot deflected off Viktor Arvidsson in front of the Anaheim net, and Josi knocked home the rebound.

The Predators, who had two goals waved off in the third period, outshot the Ducks 12-7 in the final 20 minutes and 40-20 overall.

Gibson stopped 38 saves, while Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne made 19 saves.

Nashville tied the game 1-1 with 16:06 left in the third when Filip Forsberg scored his team-leading sixth goal of the postseason. Forsberg collected the rebound of Ryan Ellis' shot not far from the Anaheim net and threw the puck into a crowded crease, scoring for the third consecutive game.

"You could sense going into the third period, the guys were saying the right things, they were confident," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think they believed they were playing a decent game and if we just stayed with it, that we'd eventually get one to drop and then see where it goes from there. "

Anaheim led 1-0 after 40 minutes but lost for the first time in the postseason when taking a lead into the third period.

The Ducks took advantage of their first power play to score with 4:25 left in the second period.

Corey Perry, celebrating his 32nd birthday, collected his third goal of the playoffs from an unlikely angle. Shooting from just below the Nashville goal line, Perry's attempt bounced off Rinne's skate and slid behind the goaltender.

However, that was the only goal the Ducks managed against the Predators, who did a good job keeping Anaheim's big forwards away from the crease.

"They're a good hockey team, no doubt about it," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "They came hard. They had their push. Tonight we didn't deal with the puck properly, which enabled them to work their forecheck and scramble us around a little."

Perry's goal came just after the Ducks had a potential score waved off by referee Brad Meier.

Anaheim defenseman Brandon Montour drove hard to the net, and his attempt bounced in off Rinne and Ekholm. However, the net came off its moorings just before the puck crossed the line, a decision that was upheld by review.

Nashville had two potential goals waved off in a span of eight seconds during the third period because of goaltender interference. It was a tough night for Gibson, who made several spectacular saves to keep the Ducks ahead through two periods.

"That's the way it is -- playoff hockey," Gibson said of taking a few tumbles. "There are not many goals that are going to be scored now that are going to be nice. It's going to the net and bouncing off people. That's the way it is."

NOTES: After going 0-for-20 on the power play over six consecutive games, Anaheim scored a power-play goal for the second straight contest. ... With the 35th goal of his playoff career, RW Corey Perry tied Teemu Selanne (35) for second on the all-time franchise postseason goals list, two behind Ryan Getzlaf. ... Predators LW Harry Zolnierczyk, a healthy scratch for the previous games, returned to the lineup. He replaced C Vern Fiddler. ... Nashville RW Craig Smith missed his third straight game due to an undisclosed injury.

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