Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) celebrates after scoring with teammates during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Phot
Chris Carlson
April 18, 2016

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Nashville Predators crowded around Pekka Rinne at the final horn and basked in the relative silence at Honda Center.

After a remarkable two-game start to the postseason, the Predators are halfway to a playoff series victory that almost nobody outside their dressing room expected.

Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and the Predators confidently claimed their second straight road victory to open the series, 3-2 over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 on Sunday night.

Shea Weber and Mattias Ekholm also scored as Nashville took a 2-0 playoff series lead for the first time in franchise history with another win over the Pacific Division champions. The enormity of the achievement wasn't lost on the Predators, but they confined their celebrations to the ice.

''We're playing one of the better teams in the West, and starting on the road,'' Rinne said. ''So far, we've done a really good job. I know it's boring, but you just try to live in the moment and focus on the next one.''

Game 3 is 1,800 miles away Tuesday night in Nashville, where the Ducks will be even more desperate after trying and failing to impose their physical will on the Predators in Game 2.

''We played a heck of a road game,'' Ekholm said. ''It's not always pretty, but we're always battling hard. We kept calm through the whole game and didn't give them much. There was a scrum after almost every whistle, but we stayed calm. We didn't try to hit them back.''

Smith got the tiebreaking goal midway through the second period on a slick setup from Forsberg, and Weber's booming shot put the Predators up 3-1 during a power play.

Nate Thompson cut into the lead with 2:42 to play, but Nashville closed out just its second road playoff victory since 2012.

Andrew Cogliano scored and John Gibson stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have lost four straight postseason games dating to last year's Western Conference finals.

Anaheim played well in stretches, but the Predators matched the Ducks' strengths and kept their discipline better, getting five power plays to the hot-headed Ducks' one.

''We don't deserve a break if we're going to yell (at the referees) and be stupid all night long,'' Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''Controlled emotion was one of our keys.''

Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg each had two assists for the Predators - and for the second straight game, they got a big performance from the imposing Rinne. The Finnish goalie has outplayed Gibson, the rookie who has lost four straight postseason starts since 2014.

The Ducks, who lost their regular-season home finale, hadn't lost three straight at Honda Center since mid-November. That was well before their phenomenal run from 29th place in the NHL standings to their fourth straight Pacific Division title.

That run won't last much longer if Anaheim can't solve the Predators, who have won just two playoff series in their entire franchise history - the same number won by Anaheim last season.

''The one thing about this team is our resiliency,'' Boudreau said. ''This team has been through some really tough times this year, so this is no different right now. It was just two years ago that we lost the first two games at home against LA and went in there and won two, so it's not an impossible thing to do.''

After Cogliano's early breakaway goal, Ekholm tied it on a backhand late in the first. Smith then put the Predators ahead midway through the second on a pass from Forsberg after a sharp play along the boards by Josi.

Thompson trimmed the lead with a backhand that deflected off Josi's leg, but the Ducks didn't come close to tying it.

''It's tough,'' Thompson said. ''We never saw ourselves being down 2-0, but we're dealt that hand, and now we've got to go in that barn and win the next one.''

NOTES: The Ducks lost defenseman Josh Manson to an upper-body injury on a hit by Forsberg at the first-period horn in Game 1, but veteran Kevin Bieksa returned to the lineup for his first playoff game with Anaheim. Bieksa hadn't played since March 24 due to an undisclosed injury. ... Weber played his 47th postseason game for Nashville, matching David Legwand for the franchise record.

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