In a shocker to the national experts, the Predators swept the Anaheim Ducks in the first two games of their opening round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In both games, Nashville topped the Pacific Division champions 3-2. The advantage is the first time in a playoff series where the Preds have led 2-0 in their history.
In game one, constant pressure put the Ducks on their heels. After James Neal opened the scoring for the Preds with a snipe 35 seconds into the contest, Nashville was able to hold off the Ducks until Anaheim took advantage of a 5-on-3 Power Play to tie the game at 1 at the first intermission. The villainous Ryan Kesler put the Ducks up 2-1 early in the second, but Colin Wilson drew the Predators even at the second intermission. Nashville’s pressure paid off when Filip Forsberg fired a shot that deflected off an Anaheim skate to give the Preds a 3-2 victory to open the series.
After stealing home ice with their win in game one, Nashville was able to get another 3-2 win by holding on to their lead through the third period. After an Anaheim goal put the Ducks up 1-0, Mattias Ekholm tallied the equalizer with less than a minute remaining in the first period. Nashville scored two in the second with a Craig Smith go-ahead goal midway through the period and a Shea Weber one-timer would add an insurance goal with less than a minute remaining in the second period. Anaheim would manage one third period goal, but the Preds would hold on to win 3-2.
Nashville’s success in the first two games has come from them putting pressure on Anaheim and staying close in all statistical categories. The Ducks have also made more mistakes, giving the puck away 13 more times than the Predators through the first two games. Pekka Rinne has also looked more like the Pekka Rinne of old, notching 27 saves in each of the first two games.
More Boudreau: “We’re down 2-0 going into a very chaotic barn. If we don’t have a sense of urgency now, we never will.”
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) April 18, 2016
With the Predators returning home, one of the loudest arenas in the NHL favors the home team easily. Any team who has lost home ice advantage, particularly when trailing 2-0, has tended to press and has made more mistakes. If Pekka Rinne and the defense plays at the level they are capable of and the offense can continue to press the Ducks, the series can certainly turn out positively for the boys in gold.