With tension rising, Predators host Ducks in Game 3

Nashville Predators Matt Irwin collides with Anaheim Ducks Chris Wagner 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 Predators Matt Irwin collides with Anaheim Ducks Chris Wagner 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

It may be the Ducks and Predators in the Western Conference Final, but after only two games, all anyone wants to talk about is the budding rivalry of Ryan Johansen and Ryan Kesler.

The Ducks eventually got around to replying with high-octane hockey - and a few fortunate bounces - that was too much even for Rinne, who hadn't given up four goals in a game since March 13. Ritchie, who had scored the series-clinching victor against the Oilers, then gave the Ducks their first lead of the series on an eye-level slap shot that Rinne seemed to duck his head on. Kase scored the tying goal in the second period - his first of the playoffs - as part of a huge night for that line that saw Getzlaf collect three assists and Ritchie score the decisive tally, his second-game victor in three contests. The fourth draw resulted in an Anaheim empty-net goal just nine seconds later. Pekka Rinne got a skate to Brandon Montour's shot, but Mattias Ekholm knocked the puck into his own net.

Randy Carlysle shook up his lines when the Preds jumped out to their lead... one of the moves he made was to elevate Ondrej Kase to the first line... that decision paid off as Kase got his first of the playoffs to tie the game and wrest the momentum back, which led to a Nick Ritchie goal seven minutes later.

"He was incredible. He played awesome", Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said of Gibson.

The series is tied at 1 and game 3 is on Tuesday Night in Nashville.

When Ottawa scores the first goal, as they did in Game 1, they can tighten the screws with their modified trap and make it hard for Pittsburgh to produce scoring chances created with their speed through the middle of the ice, which they are used to doing against many teams.

With a minute left in the first, Vatanen fired a rocket past Rinne for a power-play goal to slice the Ducks' deficit to 2-1. Mike Trout crossed Katella Avenue to support the Ducks for the second time in three playoff games. Game 3 and Game 4 are Tuesday and Thursday at Bridgestone Arena.

"Being at home here, I think, is an advantage for us because of the environment and the atmosphere that the fans bring", coach Peter Laviolette said.

But the Ducks pulled even again on the first career playoff goal for Kase, the aggressive Czech rookie, who slipped a puck through traffic.

Game 2 was another tight, low-scoring game, but the ice was clearly tilted Pittsburgh's way in the third period. I thought that we created a lot, and eventually we were going to get one by him. "But with that being said, I think we did a pretty good job in the neutral zone". It's not often you see one of Nashville's top players decide to go full bore and address it with the media afterwards, but here we are. Unfortunately for them, they didn't carry that over into the middle or the end of the story that was Game 2.

"But they dominated the shot clock tonight". They played hard at our net, bumping into our goalie all night.

They could be the favorites to win the Pacific Division next year, with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down the middle, Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson on the blue line and Cam Talbot in net.

"We're going to need that", Cogliano said.

The Senators played a near ideal road game.

"Gibby gave us a chance".

"They didn't surprise us". Like every time they stand up and they just keep cheering, keep cheering.

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