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Nashville Predators 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (OT): HEELED—James Neal Wins Game 1

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Game 1 goes to the Preds!

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators took Game One of the Western Conference Final tonight on an overtime goal by James Neal. It followed a furious chance in front of John Gibson—who played very well tonight—but the puck bounced in after Neal’s one-timer.

Jakob Silfverberg opened the scoring in this one, putting the Ducks’ first shot on goal behind Rinne for the early 1-0 lead. The Predators responded with some furious offense, sending shot after shot on John Gibson. The Preds forced turnovers, battled for pucks, and created chances. Eventually it paid off when Matt Irwin cranked a slap shot that Filip Forsberg deflected into the net.

The Ducks brought the filth with them, of course. Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler laid some questionable hits, including a dangerous one on Viktor Arvidsson. The Preds did a good job of staying out of the scrums for the most part and even drew a late penalty in the period.

The Predators pressed forward in the 2nd period and it didn’t take long for them to take the lead. Ryan Johansen sent a slick pass over to Austin Watson, who one-timed it into the Anaheim goal. It was a beautiful play, though the puck did take a fortunate bounce off Sami Vatanen.

The Ducks worked themselves back into the game after the Preds took the lead. Pekka Rinne made several nice stops, including a dandy on Ryan Kesler. The Preds were tied up in their own zone too much and even though they earned a late power play, they couldn’t add to their lead.

Not long after Rinne made a highlight reel save on Getzlaf, Hampus Lindholm tied things up on a shot from the point. He didn’t even see it. It was an unfortunate play for Rinne as he had just made a stellar play only moments before.

Later, the Preds missed a killer opportunity to take the lead while on a 5-on-3 power play. They had some chances, but couldn’t cash in. It was a huge momentum boost for the Ducks, who were much better in the 3rd than they were in the 1st and 2nd. Regulation ended with the game still tied, so we went to overtime and it was anyone’s game.

Overtime hockey is an thrill a minute, but playoff overtime hockey is NOT. It is stressful and terrifying.

But tonight? The Preds won and it was #glorious.

Random Observations

  • Interesting lines tonight. No Smith, so Aberg will be on a line with Fisher and Wilson. Plus there’s a Neal-Jarnkrok-Sissons line, which is neat.
  • The Preds getting plenty of shots early this is good.
  • But this is not good: Silfverberg scores on the Ducks’ first shot of the game. Just a sneaky wrist shot that rang far post on Rinne.
  • Preds will need to play from behind. They haven’t done that much in this postseason, though they did it on Sunday.
  • My goodness, the Preds are SWARMING.
  • Forsberg!!! Matty Irwin sends a shot on net that Fil deflects home and we are tied.
  • Boy, you have to like this start. It’s just a tie game, but you can’t ask for much better play from the Preds.
  • TIED NO LONGER. Austin Watson slams home a shot off a pass from Joey, though it did go off of Vatanen. It’s a 2nd period lead!
  • More offense and more chances from the Preds. The Ducks will make their move, so you want to put some more in the net before they do.
  • Two penalty kills. One shot by the Ducks, combined. I like that.
  • The Preds finally get another power play. They generate plenty of shots, but can’t score. Still, it helped slow down the Ducks, who had been charging pretty hard over the previous 10 minutes.
  • Another power play wasted. Preds need to get another on board.
  • RINNE WITH A #GLORIOUS SAVE. Holy cow, he got the pad out on Getzlaf.
  • Uggggh. Now the Ducks tie it. Lindholm from the point.
  • Turning point of the game: Nashville wastes a 5-on-3 chance with the game tied.
  • Shortly afterwards, the Ducks get a power play.
  • The JOFA line has been solid, but they just have so much less room to work in this 3rd period. No transition game at all. They’re having to play perfect hockey inside a phone booth.
  • Overtime. No. Please no.
  • HOLY JAMES NEAL!! HE DID IT! The Preds take Game 1!!

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game

  1. James Neal: He was everywhere tonight. He deserved to get that game winner.
  2. Ryan Johansen: 2 assists and held his own against some rough-housing by the Ducks.
  3. Pekka Rinne: 27 saves, including a couple unbelievable stops.

Tweets of the Night

Game Extras

Game Video