LOS ANGELES (AP) — Filip Forsberg got credit for the tiebreaking goal with 9:35 to play, and the Nashville Predators opened their first-round playoff series with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Predators, who got the early jump on the Pacific Division champion Ducks with a gritty road effort.
James Neal and Colin Wilson also scored, while Forsberg scored the go-ahead goal when his cross-ice pass to Craig Smith hit defenseman Shea Theodore’s skate and trickled past John Gibson.
Forsberg was dangerous all night, and not just with the puck. His open-ice hit on Josh Manson at the first-period buzzer knocked the Anaheim defenseman out of the game.
Game 2 is Sunday night in Anaheim.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler scored for the Ducks, who lost an opener for just the second time in seven playoff series under coach Bruce Boudreau.
Five years after Nashville eliminated Anaheim in six games for the franchise’s first playoff series victory, the Predators again took away home-ice advantage from the Ducks in the opener.
Gibson stopped 30 shots, but Nashville’s speed repeatedly hurt the NHL’s stingiest regular-season defense. Neal tied the Nashville postseason record with nine shots, while defenseman Ryan Ellis had an assist and several big plays.
Anaheim had a raucous crowd for its first home game since claiming its fourth straight division title. The Ducks rallied from a putrid start to this season into the playoffs with a dominant run since Christmas.
The Ducks have advanced an extra round in the past two postseasons, only to drop a Game 7 at home every year, culminating in last summer’s Western Conference finals loss to Chicago.
Now they’ll have to play Game 2 with a series deficit for the first time since their second-round loss to Los Angeles in 2014.
Just 35 seconds into Game 1, Neal jumped between two defenders and put a puck under Gibson’s arm for his 16th career playoff goal. The Ducks evened it during a 5-on-3 advantage later in the period, with Getzlaf earning his club-record 95th playoff point.
Kesler put the Ducks ahead 48 seconds into the second period with a shot through Jakob Silfverberg’s screen for the fourth goal in his last five playoff games, but Wilson evened it later in the period with a remarkable one-handed poke of Ryan Ellis’ pass.
Manson made his playoff debut for the Ducks, but didn’t return after incurring an upper-body injury on an open-ice hit from Forsberg. Theodore also made his playoff debut in the absence of Kevin Bieksa, who missed his 10th straight game.
NOTES: Before the game, the Ducks sent rookie F Nick Ritchie back to San Diego (AHL). He had two goals and two assists in 33 games, getting points in each of Anaheim’s last two regular-season contests after a slow start. … The clubs hadn’t met since Nov. 17 when they finished their regular-season series. … Key forwards Rickard Rakell and David Perron returned to the Ducks’ lineup after heading into the postseason with injuries. Rakell was Anaheim’s fourth-leading scorer, while Perron was a dynamic midseason addition before missing the past 11 games with a shoulder injury.
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