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The Nashville Predators took a 2-1 series lead in the NHL Western Conference Final following a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Roman Josi delivered the go-ahead goal late in the third period. The defenseman was in the right place at the right time as the puck bounced directly into his path, and he had an almost wide-open net for his shot. NHL on NBC showed the decisive score:
While the nature of Josi’s goal was fortuitous, it was a deserved win for the Predators, who outshot the Ducks 40-20.
Having mounted little attack to start the game, the Ducks looked to have taken a 1-0 lead with 8:18 elapsed in the second period. Pekka Rinne got a skate to Brandon Montour’s shot, but Mattias Ekholm knocked the puck into his own net. Officials waived the goal off since the net came off the moorings.
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser concurred with the decision:
Kerry Fraser @kfraserthecall
See Rule 63.6-awarded goal. Must b determined puck would’ve entered net between normal position of goal posts. #Not! https://t.co/Sg4vL4ROzF
5/17/2017, 1:40:50 AM
Fraser also argued the officials correctly avoided a delay of game penalty since Rinne didn’t deliberately make contact with the net:
Kerry Fraser @kfraserthecall
@TSNSteveLloyd Not intentional/deliberate. Slide toward post and player used hands in defensive posture to protect face/head from contacting post.
5/17/2017, 1:45:39 AM
Corey Perry soothed any agitated Ducks fans at the 15:35 mark when he gave Anaheim the lead on the power play. NHL on NBC shared a replay of the goal:
NHL on NBC @NHLonNBCSports
#ScoreyPerry from deeeeeeeeeeep!
Stream → https://t.co/P1xOBA6pOf #StanleyCup https://t.co/TJap7y17Kz
5/17/2017, 2:04:26 AM
Nashville, however, finally made the most of its decided shot advantage with a little under four minutes gone in the third period. With John Gibson’s vision impeded by a frenzy in front of goal, Filip Forsberg capitalized with a shot that sneaked into the top right corner.
Forsberg’s tally bode well for the Predators. According to Sportsnet Stats, the team had won all seven games in which he registered a point at home in the postseason. That streak extended to eight games Tuesday night.
After potentially getting away with goalie interference for their opening goal, the Predators weren’t so lucky later on in the final frame. Nashville saw two goals wiped off the board for interference. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen and ESPN’s John Buccigross reacted to the rulings:
Dan Rosen @drosennhl
Predators don’t get the goalie interference penalty, so they go and double down on it. They weren’t going to get away with it a second time.
5/17/2017, 2:32:55 AM
Bucci Mane @Buccigross
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman will be up all night, staring at the ceiling, talking goaltender interference #SmallTalk
5/17/2017, 2:39:08 AM
Josi broke the deadlock for real with 2:43 left in the game. The Ducks’ official Twitter account appeared to be less than enthused:
Anaheim Ducks @AnaheimDucks
Preds score 😡
We block a shot, and the puck goes right to Roman Josi. We trail by one with 2:43 left.
5/17/2017, 2:52:37 AM
The teams return to the ice Thursday for Game 4.
Having stolen home-ice advantage, a Game 4 victory would be huge for the Predators. Beyond just the comfort that comes with having a 3-1 series lead, a win would ensure the Ducks need seven games to advance.
Coming off a seven-game second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim likely wants to avoid another series that goes the distance.