The tables turned on the Predators Thursday night, as the Anaheim Ducks were on the brink of breaking the home team’s chokehold on visiting teams with what was to be a 2-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.
Oops. Hold on. Stop the presses. The Predators scored two goals in the final 6:27 of regulation. Filip Forsberg tied it with only 31 seconds remaining. That’s right. You weren’t dreaming. With less than a minute left in regulation, the Predators stormed the Ducks net, scoring just in the nick of time to take it to overtime.
Now the question was, which team wanted it more?
The Ducks prevailed with an overtime goal by Corey Perry that gave them a 3-2 win in overtime. It was Perry’s third overtime goal in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Ducks win tied the series at two games apiece.
It had been one of the nuttiest third periods in Predators history. The Ducks aided the enemy.
The Predators were forced to rally to win Game 3 at home and it didn’t help that they were lackadaisical in the first period. It allowed the Ducks to take a 1-0 lead in the first 20 minutes while the Predators were clearly out of sync.
The Ducks scored a goal in each of the first two periods and the Predators were in a hole they would have to play their best of the season to overcome the 2-0 deficit.
They scored their first goal of the game with a goal by defenseman P.K. Subban, who blasted a shot by Ducks goalie John Gibson.
They had 6:27 minutes to catch the Ducks. With 4:38 left, the Ducks had two players sitting in the penalty box. They opened the door for the Predators with some foolish penalties. They tried to give it away.
The Predators held a 5 on 3 advantage for 1:31. The teams were at full strength, as the Ducks killed two penalties, taking the steam out of the Preds.
They had zero quality shots during the penalty advantages and came up empty handed.
The Ducks had crafted a 2-0 lead on a shot by Nick Richie that eluded Preds goalie Pekka Rinne, who was late to catch up with the laser shot.
It was apparent the Ducks came to play Game 4 almost before country star Kelly Clarkson finished the National Anthem. She later tweeted a plea for the Predators to rally and win, for fear the fans would blame her for the loss.
The Ducks were crisp and alert from the start. Their first goal occurred as the Predators were making a lazy line change. You could tell they were more energized by taking the lead.
The Ducks and Predators failed to score on power plays, a lackluster period for the Predators. They only had one shot on goal before it was changed between periods to two shots. Even at two shots, it marked the lowest period of the season for the Predators.
Who knew? The Ducks were beating the Preds at their own game. The Ducks defense mirrored how the Predators defense had been playing in taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
The series now moves to the West Coast Saturday for Game 5.
It was clear the Preds needed a wake-up call as they had a chance to take control of the best-of-seven series.
Instead, they kept hitting the snooze button.
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.