After losing the first two games on home ice, the Ducks have tied their series with the Predators, 2–2.
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The Anaheim Ducks continue to show they’re one of the most resilient teams in the NHL, winning Game 4 in Nashville 4–1 on Thursday night to tie their series 2–2 after losing the first two games on home ice.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf scored 1:02 into the first period when he tapped in a rebound past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Nashville’s Mike Fisher tied it halfway through the second when he beat Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen on a one-timer. But later in that period, Anaheim’s Nate Thompson struck during 4-on-4 action, and the Ducks got an insurance goal by forward Jamie McGinn right before the intermission. Andrew Cogliano capped the scoring with just over three minutes to play in regulation.
Game 5 is Saturday in Anaheim.
Here are three thoughts on Thursday’s game:
Ducks show resiliency
Remember when many people wrote off the Ducks after they started the season 1–7–2? Well, they fought back to win their fourth straight Pacific Division title. Remember when the Ducks were written off just a few days ago after they fell behind the Predators after losing their first two first-round playoff series games on home ice? Well, once again, Anaheim has fought back.
After Sunday’s 3–2 loss in Game 2, it looked like the Ducks, a popular pick to hoist the Cup, could very well be swept. But they completely neutralized the Music City crowd in Games 3 and 4 by scoring the opening goals in each game, and they now resemble the contender many thought they will be. Anaheim has never won a series after falling into a 2-0 deficit, losing its six previous attempts, but if these Ducks have shown anything this season, it’s that they refuse to go down without a fight.
The Ducks definitely don't win the easy way. After committing 13 penalties through the first three games of this series, they once again spent plenty of time in the box on Thursday night, giving the Preds the man advantage six times. Then there’s the Ducks’ star scorer, Corey Perry, who still hasn't found the back of the net in this series.
But the league’s best penalty killing unit continued to shine and prevented Nashville from getting anything set up on the power play. And after starting the postseason on the bench, Andersen put in another strong effort after shutting out Nashville in Game 3. He surrendered only one goal during a ferocious attack by the Predators in a second-period span that saw them outshoot the Ducks 12–1.
The Ducks have now reclaimed home ice advantage, but that might not be a good thing, as the away team has won all four games in this series. They’ll look to change that on Saturday.
Thompson at his best in postseason
Following a disappointing regular season that was largely hampered by a shoulder injury, Thompson is proving that he is at his best under the brightest lights in the spring. After scoring just six points (3G, 3A) in 49 games in the regular season, Thompson scored his second goal of the series Thursday, which turned out to be the game-winner, after having several great opportunities earlier in the game. It was the same story for Thompson last postseason, when he scored two goals and had four assists to help the Ducks reach the Western Conference finals.
Neal looking to regain form
Nashville’s James Neal started the postseason on fire, scoring the series’ first goal just 35 seconds into Game 1 and taking nine shots in that game. But since then, the Ducks have shut him down. He only had two shots in Game 2 and three shots in Game 3. Neal once again struggled to find his form in Game 4, mustering just two shots on Thursday.
“We’re aware every time he’s on the ice at any part in the game,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters before Thursday’s game. “Because the minute you think that you’ve got James Neal, he’s scoring two goals and it’s in the back of your net.”
If the Predators want to regain the momentum in this series, several players, particularly Neal, will need to step up.