NHL Predators mince Ducks to take series lead

This is not to say that Rinne's Conn Smythe-worthy performance through the first two rounds has completely evaporated, but his peer in the other net has been by far the better netminder through the first two games of the series - Gibson stopped 43 to Rinne's 27 in Nashville's double-overtime Game 1 victory. Gibson was impenetrable in Russian Federation that year, giving up just two goals total in the medal round while facing shooters such as Mark Scheifele, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Hertl and, ironically, future Nashville standouts Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. Through the first two games of the series, Gibson has seen Nashville fire off 79 shots on goal, the most he's seen in consecutive games all postseason.

How it happened: In the franchise's first home game in the conference finals, Nashville nearly played second fiddle to Gibson.

Johansen may not have to worry about Kesler's stick as often the next two games, including Game 3 Tuesday night. With about eight minutes left in the second the puck crossed the Nashville goal line however referees determined the net had been dislodged before that happened and the goal did not count. This round, that player is Johansen, who has already had his fill of the tenacious checker only two games into this 1-1 series.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle paid tribute to Gibson's shot-stopping work in goal.

Ritchie, the power forward making his first career playoff run, scored the winning goal in Game 7 against Edmonton.

Nashville got off to a 2-0 start in Game 2 thanks to Ryan Johansen and James Neal scoring. Josi's goal sent Nashville to its 10th straight postseason home win dating to last season. We were watching the Preds game actually after Jason's show... Just two days after finishing off the Oilers in the second round, Anaheim struggled to keep up at times in its second conference finals appearance in three years.

Josi, Ryan Ellis and Filip Forsberg combined for 20 shots on goal, matching the total of the entire Ducks roster.

"I just lost sight of it for a second", said Gibson, who says little when he plays well, and even less the rest of the time. It is imperative because a Pittsburgh early lead forces Ottawa to play a more up-and-down the ice, wide-open style of game when the Senators are trailing, and that plays into the Penguins' strength in terms of generating scoring opportunities. He's eager to remind everyone that he's only one component of a defensive group that has driven the Predators to these unprecedented postseason heights. John Gibson has given up 34 goals on 382 shots faced and Jonathan Bernier has allowed four goals on 45 shots. He entered Game 2 of the Western Conference Final with a 0.950 save percentage, a 1.41 goals against average and nine wins (not to mention three assists) - all tops in the National Hockey League.

Nick Ritchie's tiebreaking goal at 17:07 of the second period was a wrister from the left faceoff circle that flew over Rinne's blocker into the net's roof.

Of course, Pekka Rinne reverted back to his old self and a few soft plays by the stingy Predators defense allowed the Ducks to climb back in the game.

It's one of hockey's Original Six clichés for goal-scorers, who get as much credit for the pucks that go in off the back of their trousers as the ones they snipe top shelf.

The Nashville Predators have not had home-ice advantage in any playoff series the last two years. "I feel like he got a lot of chances, even in the first round, and he's a goal-scorer", Predators defenseman Roman Josi said of Neal. "We just need to get back to playing our game".

"Moving him up and down in our lineup gives us some flexibility", Carlyle said.

  • Julie Sanders