Pluck the Ducks.
It didn’t come easy. The Ducks took the Predators to overtime Friday night, but the visitors managed to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven games in the Western Conference Final.
Preds winger James Neal took an assist from P.K. Subban in overtime to finally subdue the tired, but game, Anaheim Ducks.
Again the Preds’ blue-liners were huge in the game. Mattias Ekholm had a lot to do overall in the hard-earned victory.
“We were down in the Ducks zone and Subby got it over to me,’’ Neal said after the game. Ekholm had a hand in that goal, as he did when Austin Watson tied the game at 2-all.
The Predators continued to take the fight to their opponents. There was no Predator backing down from the Ducks.
“It was exactly what you saw,’’ Neal said. “It was physical all over the ice. It was good to jump on them from the start, but this is going to be a battle every night.’’
The Ducks also suffered from failures to score when they had opportunities, especially on power plays. Neither team scored on power plays, but the Predators failed to score with a 5-on-3 power play. Still, the Predators moved to 9-2 in the postseason.
They were the 16th team qualifying for the 16-team playoffs. They were the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. This one had nasty overtones to it from the start and there were no signs of this series being anything different.
These teams seem to have a dislike for each other. Perhaps it stems back to last season when the Predators eliminated the Ducks in the first Western Conference series.
It was chippy from the first period. Both team were handing out physical fore-checks throughout the game. What the Ducks lacked in speed, they made up with physicality.
You have to hand it to the Ducks. They came into Game 1 Friday night after only 48 hours removed from the seven game series with Edmonton. The Ducks took an early lead with the first goal of the game on a shot by Jakob Silfverberg.
The Predators took a 2-1 lead but the Ducks rallied to tie the game at 2-all in the third period as Anaheim killed off a 5-3 Predators power play. It seemed to energize the Ducks and they got the tying goal when defenseman Hampus Lindholm slipped a laser shot by Pekka Rinne.
While Rinne was Rinne, Ducks goalie John Gibson was no slouch. He turned back 43 of 46 shots on goal.
The teams meet again Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
If they keep winning, they will become known as “Rocky’’ on skates.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.