ANAHEIM, Calif. — Craig Smith had a goal and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 27 saves and the Nashville Predators confidently claimed their second straight road victory to open their first-round series, 3-2 over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Smith got the tiebreaking goal midway through the second period on a slick setup from Forsberg, and Weber’s booming shot put the Predators up 3-1 during a power play.
Nate Thompson cut into the lead with 2:42 to play, but Nashville closed out just its second road playoff victory since 2012.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Nashville.
The Ducks, who lost their regular-season home finale, hadn’t lost three straight at Honda Center since mid-November. That was well before their phenomenal run from 29th place in the NHL standings to their fourth straight Pacific Division title.
That run won’t last much longer if Anaheim can’t solve the Predators, who have won just two playoff series in their entire franchise history — the same number won by Anaheim last season.
The Predators matched Anaheim’s physical play, while Forsberg led an opportunistic offence in front of Rinne. The imposing Finnish goalie has outplayed Gibson, the rookie who has lost four straight post-season starts since 2014.
Neither team dominated the series opener, won 3-2 by the Predators. Anaheim gave up an opening-minute goal in Game 1, but held the Predators without a shot in the first five minutes of Game 2.
After Nashville’s power play came up empty twice, Cogliano put the Ducks ahead when he blocked a dump-in by Weber and sped past Barret Jackman to score on a breakaway.
Ekholm tied it on a backhand late in the first after a setup from Colin Wilson. Smith then put the Predators ahead midway through the second on a pass from Forsberg after a sharp play along the boards by Josi.
Thompson trimmed the lead with a backhand that deflected off Josi’s leg.
The Ducks lost defenceman Josh Manson to an upper-body injury at the first-period horn in Game 1, but veteran Kevin Bieksa returned to the lineup for his first playoff game with Anaheim. Bieksa hadn’t played since March 24 due to an undisclosed injury.
NOTES: Weber played his 47th post-season game for Nashville, matching David Legwand for the franchise record. … James Neal stoked the Ducks’ anger later in the second when he took an unpenalized whack at Gibson’s mask with his stick long after the whistle blew. … Weber played 27:36.