NHL playoffs 2017: James Neal’s goal gives Predators OT win over Ducks

The Predators were well rested and the Ducks were not, playing just two days after finishing off a tough seven-game series against the Oilers.

And that might have been the difference Friday night, as the Ducks struggled to keep pace with the Predators in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, falling in overtime, 3-2.

Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson scored in regulation for Nashville, which out-shot Anaheim 46-29, including 7-2 in overtime as James Neal scored 9:24 into the extra period to give Nashville yet another Game 1 playoff win over the Ducks.

The two teams are meeting in the postseason for the third time, including the past two seasons — series won by the Predators due in large part to the standout play from goalie Pekka Rinne. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist was stellar again Friday, stopping 27 shots.

Anaheim was playing in their third overtime game over the past five games and their power play woes continued Friday, going scoreless on those advantages. The Ducks are now 0-for-21 on power plays since late in Game 2 against Edmonton on April 28.

Game 2 is in Anaheim on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Three stars

1. Predators’ James Neal — The winger finished Game 1 with a plus-1 rating and six shots on goal in just under 20 minutes of ice time. He now has four goals and one assist in 11 games this postseason.

2. Predators’ Mattias Ekholm — The defenseman was key in holding the Ducks to just 29 shots but was also effective on offense, recording two assists. This postseason, the Predators have enjoyed 30 points from its defensemen.

3. Ducks goalie John Gibson — Despite suffering the loss, Gibson had a playoff-career high 43 saves and was masterful while the Ducks survived 1:28 with a 5-on-3 disadvantage in the third period shortly after Hampus Lindholm’s first playoff goal in two years tied it for the Ducks.

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