Stanley Cup Playoffs: Western Conference powers face risk of early elimination
1:24 | NHL
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Western Conference powers face risk of early elimination
Wednesday April 20th, 2016

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After losing the first two games to the Nashville Predators on home ice, the Anaheim Ducks went into desperation mode, and the put it to good use.

The Ducks rallied for a 3–0 win in Tuesday’s Game 3 to cut their series deficit and insert themselves back in the series.

Jamie McGinn put Anaheim on the board first when he beat Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne on a one-timer halfway through the opening period. Rickard Rakell then had a nifty backhanded tip for the Ducks and Chris Stewart followed with a goal of his own to pad the lead in the second period.

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Game 4 is Thursday night in the Music City.

Here are three thoughts on Tuesday's game:

The fun is only getting started

History not on side of goalie tandems in Stanley Cup hunt

Entering this series, Nashville and Anaheim had all the right ingredients for a great first round matchup. But after Predators stole the first two games in Anaheim, it started to look bad for the Pacific Division’s top seed.

Not anymore.

In Tuesday’s game, the Ducks once again looked like the Stanley Cup contender many expected entering the postseason. While Anaheim’s big three weapons, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, didn’t find the back of the net on Tuesday, the Ducks’ depth was showcased as Rakell rebounded from a tough Game 2 performance while McGinn and Stewart, two of Anaheim’s bottom-six forwards, made it onto the scoresheet.

The Ducks' defense was also much improved after its dismal performance in the opening two games. It limited the Predators to just 14 shots in the first two periods, and kept scoring threats like Filip Forsberg and James Neal from generating much of anything. Another positive sign for the Ducks was their ability to control the neutral zone, after being completely dominated there in the first two games.

While the situation seemed bleak in Orange County after Sunday’s game, the Ducks have some new life with a chance to even things out in Game 4.

Ducks change in net pays off

Enter Sandpaperman: Ducks' Corey Perry rubs foes raw

Entering the playoffs, one of the big questions for the Ducks was which member of the tandem would start in net. 

After John Gibson allowed three goals apiece in Games 1 and 2, coach Bruce Boudreau switched to Frederik Andersen on Tuesday. Gibson may be the Ducks’ netminder of the future, but Andersen has the proven playoff experience, as he backstopped the Ducks to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last season.

While Anaheim’s first two losses were by no means solely on Gibson, the Ducks desperately needed a spark, and Andersen gave them just that in Game 3. In only his second start since he suffered a concussion at the end of March, the 26-year-old Dane nabbed his second career playoff shutout with 27 saves against Nashville, many of them coming at key moments. One of his biggest came when he stopped a power play howitzer from blueliner Shea Weber with his mask.

Preds must capitalize on power plays

Nashville is getting no shortage of power plays in this series, but through three games, the Preds have been largely unsuccessful. A combined 1 for 13 against the league’s top penalty kill during the regular season, the Predators have had trouble just getting set up on the man advantage.

After Game 2, Boudreau stressed the need for the Ducks to avoid “stupid” and “selfish” penalties, and while the Ducks didn’t really get the memo, they were able to win the one-on-one battles and keep the Predators from generating any real opportunities on the power play. But if the Preds can start capitalizing on some of their power play opportunities, they’ll put the coming games, and this series, out of reach for the Ducks.

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