Tue, May 16, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Ritchie shines as Ducks even series 1-1 with Nashville

AFP, ANAHEIM, California

Nick Ritchie on Sunday scored the eventual winning goal as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 to even their NHL Western Conference finals series at 1-1.

Ritchie took a long pass off the boards and his shot glanced off the side of goalie Pekka Rinne’s head into the net in front of a crowd of 17,000 at the Honda Center.

“[Ryan] Getzlaf tipped it and that messed up their defense a bit. I just shot it at the net,” he said.

It was the third goal of the playoffs for Ritchie, and while it allowed Anaheim to overcome another poor start, it was not the biggest one he has scored in this post-season. Ritchie also scored the winner in Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers to advance the Ducks to the NHL semi-finals.

Jakob Silfverberg, Sami Vatanen, Ondrej Kase and Antoine Vermette, into an empty net, also scored for the Ducks, who avoided going into an 0-2 hole for the second straight series with the win.

Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators, who continued their Cinderella run through the NHL post-season by winning Game 1 in Anaheim.

The overachieving Predators have been going full steam through the post-season and it appeared for awhile on Sunday that they were not going to take their foot off the gas.

“Tonight’s response after getting down 2-0 is a character builder for our group,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.

Vatanen’s goal came on a power play, which has been a weak part of the Ducks’ game lately.

“We haven’t scored many goals on the power play so far, but let’s hope the ketchup bottle is open now and we can keep scoring,” Finland’s Vatanen said.

A pair of blunders allowed Nashville to take a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Johansen opened the scoring on a breakaway after Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm got caught out of position after making an ill-timed pinch at the Nashville blue line. The Predators took a 2-0 lead when Anaheim goalie John Gibson lost track of the puck and allowed Canadian Neal to get in behind him and score into an empty cage.

However, the Ducks fought back, scoring two goals just 99 seconds apart to tie it 2-2. Vatanen ripped a shot over the shoulder of Rinne late in the first period and Silfverberg one-timed a beautiful pass from Rickard Rakell from in close just 39 seconds into the second.

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