Ducks are proving to be comeback kings

ByAndrew Knoll ESPN logo
Monday, May 15, 2017

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, in which the Anaheim Ducks have proven to be kings of the comeback.

The Ducks dug themselves out of a two-goal hole and rallied from behind twice for a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece. It was only fitting that Anaheim pulled off another improbable victory, after doing so in the first two rounds, erasing three-goal leads in games against Calgary and Edmonton.

Both goaltenders were superb in Game 1 but struggled Sunday night as they lost track of pucks, were beaten from bad angles, and fought the puck like a stubborn in-law for the better part of 60 minutes. John Gibson stopped 29 of 32 shots for the Ducks, while the often impregnable Pekka Rinneallowed four goals on 26 shots.

Offensively, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf notched three assists, while Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen each had multi-point nights for Nashville. Anaheim's defense outscored Nashville's six points to two.

How it happened:The Preds built a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first period from Johansen and James Neal, though a shake-up in personnel helped spark the Ducks' comeback effort.

Sami Vatanen opened the scoring for the Ducks with a slap-shot goal that was Anaheim's first power-play tally in 22 attempts and seven games. A backdoor tap-in from Jakob Silfverberg drew the Ducks even at 2-2 and an in-tight shot from Ondrej Kase that hit Rinne twice on its way into the net was the next equalizer at 3-3. Nick Ritchie's short-side goal gave Anaheim its first lead 4-3, late in the second period, while Antoine Vermette added an empty-net goal late in the third as Anaheim was forced to withstand a mad scramble in its zone late in the frame.

Top-line shuffle: After a lethargic start that included poor zone entries, limited possession, sluggish speed and a 2-0 deficit, Randy Carlyle shook up his top line. He added Kase to skate with the recently promoted Ritchie and team captain Getzlaf. The result? The pace quickened, the entries eased, Kase scored his first goal since Feb. 22 and Ritchie netted the game-winning goal.

What's Next: The series shifts to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for Game 3, which will be played Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.