Ritchie strikes again as Ducks even series with Predators

Nashville center Ryan Johansen vented his frustration at how Kesler plays after the Ducks rallied twice in pulling out a 5-3 win Sunday night that tied the Western Conference finals at a game apiece.

Kesler leaned against a wall in the hallway outside the Anaheim dressing room and said he laughed when he heard Johansen's comments. While Johansen has the clear edge on the scoresheet, Kesler has ramped up the physicality ten-fold - most notably getting away with a nasty elbow to the head of Johansen.

"He's been unbelievable", Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "But again it's all about trying to get better than we were in the last game".

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"There are a lot of things to like, but it's just one game", Boucher said. "Like, his family and his friends watching him play, I don't know how you can cheer for a guy like that", Johansen said. "They were bumping into him all night long. He'll be ready to play".

Nashville has a serious challenge now, and adversity has arrived in the form of Ryan Kesler, the Ducks' defense-minded center. "We just need to get back to playing our game". Goaltender Matt Murray won the Cup past year and was the No. 1 of the present and future, so Rutherford took calls on Marc-Andre Fleury that "didn't go very far" before holding on to him. "So hopefully it is working".

In a odd way, it is Kesler's way of complimenting Johansen. After today's success of winning home series "Predators" has reached six games. I hated that they lost the second, but now they're coming home with it split one, one.

Nashville Predators' Matt Irwin (52) collides with Anaheim Ducks' Chris Wagner (21) as they battle for the puck during the second period of Game 2 of the Western Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Sunday, . Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who fought the puck all night, allowed four goals for the first time in the playoffs.

Corey Perry got the Ducks out to a 1-0 advantage in the second period.

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Now the question is not can the Ducks win on the road, it is will they win on the road?

It was somewhat humourous - and just a tad premature - when a reporter asked Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle if Sunday night's game was of the "must-win" variety. "We don't let the gas [pedal] off in what we want to do".

That means crunching the Predators whenever possible, a style the Ducks play very well.

It was the fourth time Poile, whose Predators reached the conference final for the first time in franchise history, was recognized for the award. The 6-foot-3 forward has three combined hits throwing his big body around, including a big check on Calle Jarnkrok in the opener. Forsberg collected the rebound of Ryan Ellis' shot not far from the Anaheim net and threw the puck into a crowded crease, scoring for the third consecutive game.

"He's really valuable to our hockey club", Subban said.

The Ducks see the problem as largely mental, and they intend to address it in the hours before the series resumes.

Rather than balking at the challenge, the Nashville Predators responded to a 1-0 deficit and a great John Gibson performance by just imposing their will in an eventual 2-1 Game 3 win.

Now Laviolette will have the last change, though he didn't tip his hand at any possible adjustments.

  • Tabitha Byrd