If the Anaheim Ducks thought they had taken control of the Western Conference finals after dropping five goals on the Nashville Predators on Sunday, they thought wrong.
In an all-night offensive push, epitomized by the Preds’ 40 shots on John Gibson, Nashville finally broke through in the third period of Game 3, scoring twice to undo a two-period 1-0 Anaheim lead and staying unbeaten at home in the postseason with a 2-1 victory in front of an ever-roaring Bridgestone Arena crowd.
A game after they virtually went scoreless on power-play tries against Gibson, the Preds did not convert on a man advantage until 17:17 into the third period Tuesday, when Roman Josi laced the puck into the net.
But the deciding shot was merely the icing on the cake for the surging home team, which relentlessly pressed Anaheim during the course of Game 3.
Even though the Ducks and Predators have scored eight goals each through three games in the Western finals, the latter has skated toward a potential Stanley Cup Final bid with far more control, and that was especially the case Tuesday night. They might have outscored the Ducks by only one goal, but their efforts were that of a team desperate to overwhelm with aggressiveness and persistent in attempts to capitalize on some undisciplined play by the Ducks.
For the Preds to keep their momentum alive, they’ll need to find a way to translate their dominating pace — the same one that saw them fly past the Chicago Blackhawks two series ago — into … well, more goals. They have to finish and ensure their frenetic energy actually gets the puck in the net.
On Anaheim’s side, the Ducks must alleviate the pressure on Gibson, who has mostly stood tall to slow a wild Preds offense. They’ve done a nice job thwarting plenty of Nashville power plays, but they also can’t bank on another comeback or two to fall in their favor against such a potent opponent — and one that has both entertained and dominated on home ice.