Best(ish): Not being down 2 goals at the end of the first
Anaheim has made a habit of going down early in games these playoffs and being forced to claw their way back in the later stages of games. If this trend continues against Nashville, I don’t see any way they move on to the Finals. However, despite still being outplayed in the latter stages of the first period, the Ducks went into the first intermission tied. If Anaheim can continue to improve their starts to games they could really set themselves up better to win games.
Worst(ish): Contact with Gibson
I don’t want anyone hitting our goaltender. Let me make that clear from the start. If he gets hurt because of getting run over, that does not help this team at all. However, let me also make it clear that I honestly had no problem with both of the plays the Preds made last night that resulted in goalie interference. I think the refs made the right calls, but neither of those were dirty plays. Anaheim walks that same line Nashville did on a nightly basis, and I think that’s the right way to play hockey.
Worst: Too Much Net Traffic
Anaheim has done a terrible job in this series at clearing Nashville forwards from the front of the night. This inability to clear the front and get Gibson some vision directly led to the game-winning goal last night. A Predators forward not only blocked Gibson’s vision, but he also deflected the puck to Roman Josi to finish the goal. This kind of traffic in front of Gibson has been a constant problem this series and it will continue until Anaheim decides to be physical in front of the net.
Worst: Pushing Players Onto Your Goaltender
I railed on Bieksa earlier this season for doing this too much. Part of being physical in front of your own net is making sure that opposing forwards do not have the opportunity to affect how your goaltender plays the puck. PUSHING A PLAYER ON TOP OF YOUR GOALIE DOES NOT ACCOMPLISH THIS, I’M LOOKING AT YOU SAMI VATANEN. I don’t know why players still do this, but it cost Anaheim the tying goal last night.
Worst: A Terrible Third
I don’t know if Anaheim was tired going into the third or if they thought a 1-goal lead was safe enough to sit on (it hasn’t been this entire series), but they were atrocious in the third period. The Ducks got totally outworked in the final frame last night and that’s what won Nashville the game. The Preds won the 5v5 Corsi battle 18-9 in the third and scored both of their goals in the final frame. Finishing games like this is not how Anaheim has played throughout these playoffs, and it can’t continue if they want to move on.
3. Pekka Rinne
While he did give up a flukey goal to Corey Perry in the second, Rinne battled throughout this game and held Anaheim to just a single goal.
2. Ryan Johansen
While not recording any points in the game, Johansen continues to be a thorn in Anaheim’s side, despite what the interviews may tell you. The young center had a plethora of great chances last night.
1. Roman Josi
Game-winning goal and a monster 72.5% Corsi at 5v5. I don’t think I need to say much more than that. Josi had a great game, period.