Defenseman Roman Josi's power-play goal with 2:43 remaining in regulation gave the Nashville Predators a 2-1 win in Game 3 on Tuesday and an identical series lead over the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. The late goal, which came after Ducks winger Chris Wagner took a high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone, capped the Predators' comeback after Ducks winger Corey Perry opened the scoring with 4:25 remaining in the second period.
Predators center Filip Forsberg tied the game 3:54 into the third, beating goaltender John Gibson from a severe angle for his team-leading sixth goal of the postseason. To his credit, Gibson was excellent, with 38 saves for the Ducks. Goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 19 shots for Nashville.
How it happened: In the franchise's first home game in the conference finals, Nashville almost played second fiddle to Gibson.
After an overshadowed 43-save outing in Game 1 and a standout 30-save performance in the Ducks' series-tying win in Game 2, Gibson appeared to be taking over this series. After years of being touted as the Ducks' future franchise goalie, the 23-year-old goaltender was excellent in a lackluster Anaheim performance Tuesday. He certainly kept the Ducks afloat in the second period, which started with the Predators owning an 8-0 shot advantage through the first 11:41.
That Josi's winner came on the power play was a welcome relief for the Predators, who were 0-for-11 with the man advantage in the series up until the defenseman jumped on a rebound of a Mattias Ekholm shot. That performance was a precipitous drop for a Nashville power play that was already struggling coming into the series. Through the first two rounds, the Predators went 5-for-25 with the man advantage, an unimpressive 20 percent clip.
Controversy: Ducks winger Jared Boll's open-ice hit on Harry Zolnierczyk left the Predators' forward down, and Preds winger Cody McLeod dropped the gloves with the Anaheim fourth-liner. The spirited exchange resulted in a two-minute instigator penalty for McLeod and a furious tirade directed at the officials by Nashville coach Peter Laviolette, who felt Boll's hit merited a penalty. Perry opened the scoring on the ensuing Ducks power play, leaving the home crowd noticeably upset.
What's next: With the Predators two wins shy of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals, these two teams will renew acquaintances in Game 4 Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. Look for the Ducks to be desperate, because another loss will put them on the brink of elimination.