What to Watch for: Predators put perfect home record on the line

Ryan Kesler spoke after the Ducks Game Two win about Anaheim fighting back against the Predators, his matchup with Ryan Johansen, and John Gibson’s impact.

The Nashville Predators return home for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night with the series tied at 1-1.

Anaheim overcame a two-goal deficit to score four times in less than 19 minutes in its Game 2 victory at home.

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Game 3: 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet

Dominance at home
The Nashville Predators have been absolutely dominant at home in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, going 5-0. Dating back to last year, the Preds have won nine consecutive home playoff games.

Scoring on Nashville at Bridgestone Arena has been equally difficult as they’ve allowed just six goals in those five games.

With that said, the Ducks are coming into Game 3 with all the momentum after a big comeback victory on Sunday night. Ryan Getzlaf had three assists and Nick Ritchie broke a second-period tie for the winner.

Anaheim will need a consistent scoring effort if it wants to take a series advantage. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has a 1.14 goals-against average and .959 save percentage at home this post-season.

Speaking of offence…
So who exactly is going to provide the offence needed for the Ducks if they’re going to hit the scoresheet in Nashville?

Getzlaf is second in playoff scoring with 18 points, trailing only Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Anaheim used five different scorers in the Game 2 win.

Despite the obvious in Getzlaf, look for someone like Jakob Silfverberg or Ritchie to step up and contribute.

Silfverberg has scored in two straight games and leads the team with nine goals while Ritchie has two goals in his last three games.

Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are two veterans that are due to break out. Perry, a known sniper, has been scoreless in his last four and has just two goals in 13 playoff games. Kesler is typically a known as a force in the post-season with clutch goals, but you have to look back to Game 3 of the Ducks’ second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers for his last tally.

Kesler vs. Johansen
Even though Kesler may not be contributing as much offensively as he’d like to, he’s certainly getting under the skin of his opponent.

Predators forward Ryan Johansen had strong words for Kesler after being matched up against him for much of Game 2.

“He just blows my mind, I don’t know what’s going through his head out there,” said Johansen, who had a goal and an assist in the loss. “His family and friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that.

“It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey, and it sucks when you have to pull a stick out of your groin after every shift.”

Those comments, along with Kesler’s response to Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson, will make for an interesting matchup to watch for tonight.

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