ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Predators’ traveling postseason roadshow rumbled into Honda Center on Friday, gleefully sending attendees home unsatisfied again.
In any other forum, that wouldn’t be the soundest business model, but this is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Conventional wisdom has no place here.
It’s been successful for the Predators, who made a victorious Western Conference final debut against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. Nashville’s 3-2 overtime win was the team’s third Game 1 win on the road this postseason.
“I think we realize that we don’t have home ice,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re going to need to win on the road."
An eighth-place finish during the regular season didn’t afford the Predators home-ice advantage, so they’ve decided to steal it instead.
Predators forward James Neal robbed the Ducks of another late-game comeback attempt, whizzing a one-timer past goaltender John Gibson halfway through the overtime period.
Nashville has shown no intimidation when outside of unblemished Bridgestone Arena, where it has won nine consecutive home playoff games.
“We’re just trying to play our game,” Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "We’re trying to do all the good things we do."
On Friday, the Predators announced themselves with authority, clearly commanding the first half of the game. They took a 2-1 second-period lead on a goal from forward Austin Watson, the 15th Predators players to score through 11 playoff games. The goal set a franchise postseason record.
“We’re just confident in our group,” Watson said. "We’ve got 20 guys in here on a nightly basis during the game that can play and contribute. During the playoffs, that’s huge to get it from everybody."
The expected Anaheim pushed arrived in the third period, with one goal squeezing past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Neal then became the Predators' first repeat game-winning goal-scorer.
“Whoever’s picking us as the underdog, that’s fine,” Neal said. "We know what type of team we have in our dressing room. We’ve known that all year. We’ve built a team to try to win a Stanley Cup.”
Reach Adam Vingan at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AdamVingan.
PREDATORS vs. DUCKS
All games broadcast on 102.5-FM
Game 1: Predators 3, Ducks 2 (OT)
Sunday: at Anaheim, 6:30 p.m. (NBC SN)
Tuesday: at Nashville, 7 p.m. (NBC SN)
Thursday: at Nashville, 7 p.m. (NBC SN)
x — May 20: at Anaheim, 6:15 p.m. (NBC)
x— May 22: at Nashville, 7 p.m. (NBC SN)
x — May 24: at Anaheim, 8 p.m. (NBC SN)
x — if necessary