Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators - 5/14/17 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

And if there's anywhere that Anaheim holds a decided edge over their opponents, it's in the experience category.

Nashville looked even more dominant in the second period, in which the Ducks were presented with two power plays and got nothing on either, and precious little possession on the second. But they also fired three shots off the post (including a rocket of a Phil Kessel shot that rang off the cross bar in the final minutes) and watched as Senators goalie Craig Anderson played a fantastic game that included a couple of highlight reel saves.

The Anaheim players have been vocal about the need for a good start. Experience doesn't necessarily win championships, but it can help ensure teams don't wilt in big moments or on grand stages. And if it comes down to that, Pekka Rinne is the better goaltender.

During the regular season, the Predators were 15th in the league short handed.

If there's an area of concern, however, it's in goal.

"It is going to be physical all over ice", said Neal, who drove Anaheim defenseman Brandon Montour's head into the side boards just moments before scoring the game victor. They had to make an unprecedentedly late rally from a three-goal deficit to beat the Oilers in Game 5 at home.

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The first period came to a close with Nashville and Anaheim knotted up at one, but it was clear from the early stages who was showing up.

It's getting really hard to find the shortcomings of this Predators' squad through two rounds. Rinne was still in Nashville's goal, having sent Chicago and St. Louis home with the same lament.

Nashville was better in Game 1 - flat out, no doubt. We have to stay on for Game 2, and we know now we'll have that home-ice advantage again.

For the third consecutive series, Nashville won Game 1 on the road, improving its overall postseason record to 9-2. Each team executed a four-game sweep in the first round.

Of course, there's a bit of chicken-and-the-egg thing going on in Nashville.

"We played well, but we can be even better", defenseman P.K. Subban said. The top four is so strong that there hasn't been a single offensive star - not Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko or Jaden Schwartz - that has been able to consistently break through.

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With the Ducks on yet another power play in the third period, the 6-foo-5 Rinne did an imitation of an octopus as he got a right pad on a shot from Rickard Rakell and then immediately stretched into the splits to rob Getzlaf with a left pad save on the ensuing rebound.

The Predators drew even on a redirection by Filip Forsberg. If the Predators' top line can crack a young but skilled Ducks' defense, Nashville could take the series.

It was that kind of start for the Ducks and their fans. A lot of the scoring onus could be on the rest of the Ducks' depth, too.

Watson continued the trend of fourth line players stepping up for the Preds, with the likes of Kevin Fiala and Vernon Fiddler coming through when it mattered in the first two rounds. But James Neal showed in the second round why he's still around in Nashville and the type of difference-maker he can be. Anaheim would have to gear up for a winner-take-all Game 7 Wednesday night. Add in Neal's proclivity for throwing his weight around and he could wreak some havoc on the Ducks.

Anaheim will host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the conference finals Friday night. He's got a $3.75 million cap hit for two more seasons, so he's paid at a reasonable clip, but there's a good chance the Ducks will want to protect four defensemen. Getzlaf isn't as dominant there, but he's a much more gifted point producer and this year was a huge return to form for him. SlapShot Radio is the longest running hockey show in the mid-south and Pete Weber and I bring you the best in hockey talk all playoffs long. So.

Pearn said another factor that stuck out for him was back pressure by forwards on each team, a key reason why each has reached the Western Conference Final.

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