It’s game on. Believe it Smashville. No more sweeps.
The Predators found out their Game 1 win against Anaheim was fool’s gold.
They discovered that being the team to score first in these games really wasn’t worth much. Sure, the Preds were the first team to score in Game 2 of the Western Division final Sunday night.
A three-goal second period by Anaheim and a third period Ducks empty netter lifted them to a 5-3 decision over the Predators. Game 3 will be at 7 p.m. at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators even went up 2-0 in Game 2 with a goal by James Neal. It would not stick.
A furious second period in which the Ducks evened the score two times after trailing by a goal would not be enough. Nick Ritchie put the Ducks ahead late in the period with a goal that Pekka Rinne would like to have back.
The Ducks took a 4-3 lead to the third period and the final 15 minutes promised to have as many or more fireworks from both teams.
The Predators were on a power play early in the third period, but Anaheim quickly killed it off and the scrum went on.
The Predators had started the game on fire and it was 1-0 visitors on center Ryan Johansen’s goal in less than five minutes of play. Viktor Arvidsson fed Johansen and Ducks goalie John Gibson was helpless. It was Johansen’s 13th point in the playoffs.
It wasn’t long before the Ducks were looking at a 2-0 deficit and the Predators were having their way. This time the Predators took advantage of a dumb penalty called on Nick Ritchie, putting the Predators in control.
This time it was James Neal that scored for the Preds. Neal had an open goal thanks to Arvidsson creating a traffic jam in front of Gibson. It would not hold up.
The Predators had two goals on only six shots.
If it were Duck hunting season, the Predators were loaded and ready.
So were the Ducks.
The Ducks finally showed show some life in the first period as they closed the gap to 2-1. Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen helped bring the comatose Anaheim crowd to life with his blast blowing by Pekka Rinne for the Ducks first goal on a power play.
The Ducks had gone six playoff games without lighting the lamp on a power play. They were 0-for-21 on power play shots.
The Ducks came to life in the second period, scoring three goals, the first tied the score at 2-all just after the second period started. It was a shot by Jakob Silfverberg’s that knotted the score. Rinne was screened by Ducks center Ryan Kesler and Rinne was out-guessed.
The Ducks had taken back some momentum, but Predators’ Filip Forsberg scored his fifth goal of the playoffs to give the Preds a 3-2 lead.
It was short-lived as the Ducks kept coming in waves. Winger Ondrei Kase managed to even the score once more as he was credited with getting the puck barely past Rinne. The Ducks were making passes they had not made before. The Preds knew they were playing a Ducks team that was rough and ready to go the distance.
This series is going to be a blow-by-blow battle the rest of the way. Both teams are now flexing their muscles, connecting with sharp passes and putting everything on the line.
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.