ANAHEIM — Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the morning after:
— There is no more sickening feeling than to flip a puck over the boards and see the referee stick his arm up in the air, as the opposing team points excitedly to the seats. It’s an automatic delay of game, not open to interpretation the way everything else is. The Ducks suffered back-to-back puck-flip penalties on Ryan Getzlaf and Nate Thompson in the third period Friday night, creating a 5-on-3 for Nashville for 1:29. The Ducks killed them off and used it as fuel for a fine third period generally, but many people in the hockey world buried their foreheads. It’s a wildly unpopular penalty.
— “I’m a traditonalist,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said, “and it’s a real tough penalty. My personal preference is that it isn’t called during the game. It puts too much pressure in those situations.”
— It’s particularly difficult when it happens on dubious ice, with pucks that bounce and are being handled by players who are under duress. Thompson was trying to advance the puck off the boards and Nashville defenseman Matias Ekholm had his stick between Thompson’s legs at the time.
— It took almost no time for the Ducks and Predators to express their distaste for each other. The Ducks’ Jared Boll shouldered Nashville’s Calle Jamkrok right in the chops, without a call, and Ryan Getzlaf sent Victor Arvidsson face-frirst into the boards and didn’t get a boarding whistle. The hit that will be examined by the Ducks was James Neal’s, which put Brandon Montour into the boards in overtime.
— The Ducks were allowing power-play units to score on them at a 31 percent clip in the playoffs. They looked more like the fourth-best penalty killers in the league, which they were in the regular season. Nashville had 8:33 of advantage time and came up empty. “I think both teams wish they could have done more on their power play,” said the Predators’ Filip Forsberg, “but the penalty kill didn’t give them much.”
— Nashville kept the Ducks’ power play unit muffled, too, going 0 for 4 in eight minutes. One power play in the first period was so futile that the Honda Center crowd started booing. The Predators picked up the Ducks at the blue line and rarely let them set up.
— This one cannot be laid at the feet of John Gibson, who stopped 43 of 46 Nashville shots and all 11 on power plays. None of the Predators’ goals got past Gibson without some extenuating circumstances, whether it was a deflection by Forsberg, a shot by Austin Watson that bounced off Sami Vatanen’s backside and past Gibson, or Neal’s final shot that Gibson tried to stop without a stick. The puck glanced off Corey Perry, who was directly in front of Gibson and didn’t have a stick either. It happened because the Predators won a couple of puck battles and P.K. Subban wound up for a point shot, then slid the puck over to Neal, who has one of the best one-time shots in the game.
— The Predators figured to be a sterner challenge in faceoffs than Edmonton was, but the Ducks won that department, 40-31.
— Although Gibson’s statistics haven’t been that gaudy in the playoffs, it is noteworthy that his save percentage in 5-on-5 situations was .938 going into Game 1.
— Subban and Ekholm were an outstanding defensive pair in this game, but neither was on the ice as much as Cam Fowler (31:22). After the first period, the Ducks’ young defenders were solid. During the first period? “I thought we were inept,” Carlyle said. “We weren’t moving our feet.”
— Nashville is 4-0 in playoff overtimes over the past two years and is 6-2 in Honda Center playoff games.
— The Predators sent 77 shots Gibson’s way, if you count shots on goals, missed shots and blocks.
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