Game one of the Western Conference final is in the books, and the lower seeded Nashville Predators pulled off a 3-2 overtime victory on the road on Friday night.
Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg was the one who opened the scoring at 5:15 of the opening period, with an incredible turnaround wrister that beat Pekka Rinne top blocker side.
Nashville controlled the play after that, pummeling shots on net and remaining very active in the offensive zone.
Their hard work finally paid off just over halfway through the opening frame.
Nick Ritchie’s turnover created a transition chance for the Preds, which led to Filip Forsberg's fourth goal of the postseason on a deflection in front.
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. The Predators were quick on their feet, forcing turnovers and implementing effective transition offense. They outshot the Ducks 15-6 through 20 minutes.
The early stages of period two were more of the same for Nashville, and they picked up their first lead of the series at 2:42.
Austin Watson hammered a one-timer off of Sami Vatanen’s skate and into the Anaheim net. It was Watson’s first of the postseason and it came off a well-placed cross-ice pass from Ryan Johansen.
The Ducks were more competitive in the second period, despite giving up the lead early on. They started to even out with Nashville as the game turned into more of a back and forth and less of the Predators just transitioning off of turnovers.
Nearly half of the third period went by before someone could find the back of the net, and that someone was Hampus Lindholm, who scored his first postseason goal of the year to tie the game at two.
Lindholm ripped a wrister off of the near-side post and past Rinne off of an offensive zone faceoff win by Nate Thompson.
As a whole, the Ducks mounted a much better period in the third. They limited Nashville’s opportunities and were able to generate a little bit more offense in turn.
Ultimately, this game needed overtime, like so many other games in these playoffs, and a player with some controversy surrounding him came through in the big moment.
James Neal, Nashville’s most experienced playoff performer, cashed in on a P.K. Subban one-time feed and ended game one under halfway into the first overtime period.
Neal was in the spotlight for more than just that, though. Earlier in the game, he laid this big hit on Anaheim defenseman Brandon Montour.
James Neal lays a big hit on Montour pic.twitter.com/Fz5BDLdSBX— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 13, 2017
It certainly could have been called charging, or maybe even boarding, but no call was made, to the dismay of the Anaheim faithful at the Honda Center. It’s the playoffs, and sometimes calls aren’t made, for better or for worse.
Game two of what will undoubtedly be a fantastic Western Conference final is slated for Sunday at 7:30 EST. The Ducks will try to even up this series before they head out to a rowdy and energetic Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for games three and four.