What a difference four days can make.
On Sunday, Anaheim looked to be in serious trouble in its opening-round series against Nashville after dropping its second game — at home, no less — to fall behind two games to none.
Now, the series is all square.
The Ducks took care of business at Bridgestone for the second straight time on Thursday, beating the Preds 4-1 to even the series at two games apiece. Four different Ducks found the back of the net — Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Nate Thompson and Jamie McGinn — while Frederik Andersen continued to shine in goal, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
Since taking over the starting gig from John Gibson, Andersen has posted a sparkling .982 save percentage.
As Andersen’s numbers suggest, Nashville’s offense has really dried up — and now, some of those missing scorers are under the microscope. Ryan Johansen is goalless in this series, and hasn’t registered a point since Game 1. Mike Ribeiro and Calle Jarnkrok, who had 50 and 30 points respectively this season, have posted goose eggs through four games.
The Preds will no doubt be disappointed with how this series has turned. After two very solid outings at Honda Center to open the series and steal home-ice advantage, they now find themselves in a best-of-three.
The Ducks, meanwhile, have regained momentum.
To be fair, it’s not surprising that Anaheim has pulled this off. This is a team, remember, that spent the first half of the season mired in a team-wide slump, only to stage a dramatic second-half comeback in which they were one of the NHL’s hottest teams. At January’s All-Star Game — in Nashville, fittingly enough — Corey Perry suggested the early struggles would pay dividends in the long run.
Perry said that when the Ducks offense went cold, they realized they could still win games by clamping down defensively — something that would come in handy in the playoffs.
“It’s definitely going to help us,” he said. “To get our wins we have to keep the team we’re playing to two goals or less. If you can do that in this league, you’re going to have a lot of chances to get wins.”
Mike Fisher scored the lone goal for Nashville tonight, his first of the series… Pekka Rinne stopped 21 of 25 shots for an .840 save percentage… The Preds played tonight without Craig Smith, who’s out with a lower-body injury… Smith had 26 goals during the regular season, and two points through the first three games.