- The Western Conference Finals are now best-of-three after the Anaheim Ducks dealt the Nashville Predators their first home loss of the postseason with a series-tying overtime win in Game 4.
The Western Conference Final is now a best-of-three series. An overtime goal from Corey Perry propelled the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 win Thursday against the Predators in Nashville. The win evened the series at two games apiece.
Rickard Rakell got the Ducks out to a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Cam Fowler sent a stretch pass up the ice to Rakell, who collected the puck and fired a blast past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne at 11:30 in the first period.
Anaheim's lead ballooned to 2-0 midway in the second period, when Nick Ritchie skated into the Ducks' offensive zone, dragged the puck around Nashville's Roman Josi and scored on a wrist shot top shelf and glove side at 10:22.
The Predators are used to trailing in playoff games. The team rode a 10-game postseason home winning streak—a streak dating back to the 2016 postseason—into Thursday night's game. Nashville trailed in seven of those contests. P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg breathed life into a potential eighth come-from-behind victory for Nashville with third-period goals in the final 6:27 of regulation to force overtime.
But Corey Perry and the Ducks ruined the Predators' comeback hopes. Perry's goal at 10:25 of overtime made him the NHL's third player to ever tally three overtime goals in a single postseason joining Maurice Richard (1951) and Mel Hill (1939).
Game 5 is set for Saturday in Anaheim.
Predators sleep through first period
Nashville registered just two shots on goal in the first period. The first came 5:54 into the game courtesy of Viktor Arvidsson. The other was a wrist shot from Ryan Johansen with 49 seconds left in the period.
Put another way, 13:17 in time elapsed before Nashville was able to challenge Anaheim netminder John Gibson a second time. From a defensive perspective, the two shots on goal allowed became a franchise-best for the Ducks. Anaheim's prior record, three shots on goal allowed in a playoff period, came in Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Meanwhile at the other end of the rink, Anaheim peppered Nashville's Rinne with 14 shots on goal. One of those, a slapper from Rakell, found the back of the net. It was a good sign for a team that had repeatedly expressed the need for better starts in the series.
Playing a two-way game
Coming into Thursday night's contest, 36.7 percent of the Predators' points this postseason had come from their defense. For the Ducks, that number was 30.4 percent. Defensemen from both teams registered points in Game 4.
Subban scored the game-tying goal to force overtime for Nashville, while Fowler and Sami Vatanen assisted on goals for Anaheim.
Gibson stays hot
Gibson stopped 32 of 34 shots Thursday night, including five while Anaheim killed penalties. It was the fourth time this postseason Gibson has stopped at least 94 percent of the shots he's faced in a game.
His confidence showed during a third period sequence that saw him lose his stick during a scuffle in front of the net, only to casually skate over and pick it up while play was still in the Ducks' zone. It was a sign of trust in himself and his teammates, despite their struggles that have popped up during the playoffs.
“I think the last three or four years, we’ve gone through a lot,” Gibson said. “More downs in the playoffs than up—I think we’ve learned from that, we have a sense of calmness and we have a sense to always regroup if we’re up or we’re down.”