Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
The Anaheim Ducks are at a crossroads in their Western Conference Final series with the Nashville Predators.
The Ducks lost home-ice advantage when they dropped the series opener, and if they can’t find a way to earn a victory in Bridgestone Arena Thursday night, they will return home staring at a 3-1 disadvantage in the series.
Anaheim was close to picking up that road victory in Game 3 Tuesday night, as the Ducks held a 1-0 lead after two periods, but they could not hold that advantage as a result of the relentless pressure brought on by the Preds.
Filip Forsberg was in the right place at the right time, and he scored the tying goal for Nashville.
“Obviously when you’re out there, you want to help the team,” Forsberg said, per Adam Vignan of the USA Today Network. “Doesn’t matter if we’re up or down, you always want to help the team. It came obviously at a good moment, but at the same time, if I didn’t get that goal, I’m sure someone else would have.”
That goal gave the Preds momentum, and Roman Josi continued the push when the scored the go-ahead goal that proved to be the winner.
Western Conference Final Series, Nashville leads 2-1
Game 4, Thursday, at Nashville, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Game 5, Saturday, at Anaheim, 7:15 p.m., NBC
Game 6, Monday, May 22, at Nashville, 8 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary
Game 7, Wednesday, May 24, at Anaheim, 9 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary
Brian Chojnacki @BroadcastingBri
As we watch all 4 Sens 1st period goals let’s not forget Las Vegas had the Senators 40/1 odds to win the #StanleyCup back in October. https://t.co/1Gid29evrS
5/18/2017, 1:46:00 AM
Just as the Preds picked up a home victory, the Ottawa Senators did the same thing Wednesday night in the Eastern Conference Final series.
The Senators rolled up four first-period goals and knocked goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury out of the box, and that led to a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Sens are known for their defensive 1-3-1 scheme and their ability to shut down opponents, and that style has been labeled as somewhat boring by critics.
That type of talk does not bother the team. “Whether it’s boring or not, at this point of the year, we’re not trying to sell tickets. We’re just trying to come out with wins,” Bobby Ryan said, per Frank Seravalli of TSN.ca. “You’ve got to go with what works.”
There was nothing boring about Game 3, as head coach Guy Boucher saw his team come out with speed and aggressiveness, and that left the Penguins on their heels.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Hoffman, Marc Methot, Derick Brassard and Zack Smith potted first-period goals as Ottawa swarmed the Pittsburgh defense and broke it down. Kyle Turris added a second-period goal for the Sens, while Sidney Crosby scored the only Pittsburgh goal.
After tight victories in their their first two rounds over the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, the Sens put some distance between themselves and their opponents for the first time in the playoff season.
The Senators will have a chance to take full control of the series when they host the Penguins Friday night.
The Penguins are much more likely to play with desperation, and the defending Stanley Cup champions will need to up their game considerably if they are going to even the series against the red-hot Senators.
Eastern Conference Final Series, Ottawa leads 2-1
Game 4, Friday, at Ottawa, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Game 5, Sunday, at Pittsburgh, 3 p.m., NBC
Game 6, Tuesday, May 23, at Ottawa, 8 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary
Game 7, Thursday, May 25, at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m., NBCSN, if necessary
The Predators have been aggressive and opportunistic throughout the postseason, and they have won six straight games at home.
Their crowd is raucous, and they have opportunistic scorers in Viktor Arvidsson, James Neal and Filip Forsberg. Nashville can sense a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final, and they are going to come out with their best effort at home.
The Duck will match them for two periods, but the Preds will find a way in the final 20 minutes or overtime to seize control of the series. Nashville will take a 3-1 advantage.
It will likely be a different story in Game 4 in Ottawa. The Penguins are a proud team, and the defending Stanley Cup champions will not go easily.
They will show up with the same energy the Sens had in Game 3, and Pittsburgh will tie the series at 2-2.