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Nashville Predators 3, Anaheim Ducks 2: Preds Ride Solid Defense, Clutch Shooting In Game 1 Win

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The Preds took Game 1 with a solid defensive performance and some timely goals. The playoffs are here and I already forgot how to breathe.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 goes to the Nashville Predators!

It was a back-and-forth opening round in Anaheim tonight. After the Predators took an early lead, the Ducks found their legs and powered home a couple of goals to go up 2-1. A fantastic individual effort by Ryan Ellis helped Colin Wilson get the tying goal by John Gibson. Then, an even more fantastic individual play by Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 3-2 lead with about 9 minutes to play.

At that point, the Predators turned on their defensive machine, generating hit after hit, blocking shot after shot. The Ducks found themselves unable to maintain possession in the offensive zone for very long and unable to generate quality scoring chances. Seriously, the defensive play in front of Pekka Rinne was fantastic in that 3rd period. Credit to that unit for rising up to the challenge.

Pekka Rinne, while he looked a bit shaky early, finished the game with 27 saves and definitely did his part in between the pipes. John Gibson finished with 30 saves, giving up a tough luck goal in the 3rd period. James Neal, Colin Wilson, and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators. Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler scored for the Ducks.

This was a great win. The Predators didn't play a full 60 minutes of hockey and still found a way to win in a tough situation, in an already tough playoff series. Great, great start.

Random Observations

  • OH MY. One shot, one goal. James Neal pounces on a rebound and the Preds have a lead only 35 seconds in. Weber and Jarnkrok missed on a chance only seconds before, but Johansen was able to nudge a soft pass that came right to Neal, who did not miss. And that's why he is on this team. To make those chances count.
  • Predators are passing and skating well. They look fresh, but they need to step up their speed game a little bit. There are some lanes around the outside of the Ducks defense that could be exploited. Pekka Rinne is the only Pred that looks off. He just seems unsure of himself.
  • Ducks tie it up while on a 5-on-3 power-play. Weber took a bad penalty while Bitetto was in the box and then Ryan Getzlaf got a friendly rebound on the score. Bad penalties. Can't take 'em. Not against this team.
  • Momentum has completely changed. After that power-play goal, the Ducks are much more confident. Ryan Kesler scores an early 2nd period goal and Rinne just didn't see it. Kesler waited for the traffic to move in front and sniped it far side. Veteran move.
  • Welcome back, Colin. Just like that, the Preds tie it up. Unbelievable play, as Ryan Ellis played the puck perfectly around the defense and shoveled a pass towards a streaking Wilson, who then one handed it into the net. Awesome all around.
  • And now some crazy chances by Wilson, Johansen, and Forsberg. The Preds are trying to take the momentum back, nearly getting the go-ahead goal. But it's all ended abruptly when Cody Bass gets an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty on a Ryan Garbutt dive. Preds are able to kill off the man advantage and they are safe for now.
  • This 3rd period is going to be insane.
  • Ryan Ellis is just doing everything right. In addition to that beautiful pass to Wilson to tie the game, he's blocking shots, hitting Ducks, and seeing the whole ice very well. Excellent game from #4 so far. Also he did this.
  • Both teams are not nearly as aggressive in this 3rd period as they were in the 1st and 2nd.
  • I'LL TAKE THAT GOAL, THANK YOU. Oh myyyyy goodness. Forsberg with a steal, a shimmy, and a serendipitous bank-in. Fil wasn't having the best game, but that will help his confidence. That move tho.
  • Preds with a late 3rd period power-play. It would be so huge to get a goal here. Need that insurance marker.
  • 3.8 seconds left. Win the face-off, win the game
  • Well, they didn't win the face-off, but they still won the game. Logic be damned!

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Ryan Ellis: in almost 20 minutes of ice-time, this dude did it all. Huge assist on the Wilson goal, 4 blocked shots, 4 shots on goal. Huge rocket ship.
  • James Neal: series opening goal and followed it up with X shots on Gibson. He ripped a Forsberg cross ice pass off the post late in the 3rd as well. Nealer was on it, tonight.
  • Colin Wilson: I love those playoff hands.

Tweets of the Night

There's so many of these, but here are my favs:

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

Roll the video highlights...