ANAHEIM, Calif. - In danger of falling into an two-game hole against the Nashville Predators, the Anaheim Ducks used a second-period comeback to even the Western Conference finals.
Nick Ritchie scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Ducks rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Predators on Sunday at Honda Center to level the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
"I don't want it to seem we're doing things the hard way," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who tied his playoff career high with three assists. "We're in a conference final here. There's going to be no sweeps, no blowouts, both teams are here for a reason. They're both playing hard. Obviously, we did a good job of bouncing back after last game's performance."
Sami Vatanen, Jacob Silfverberg and Ondrej Kase each had a goal for the Ducks, who wiped out a two-goal deficit to prevail. Anaheim's Antoine Vermette added an empty-netter with 43.6 seconds left, and Cam Fowler had two assists.
Anaheim goalie John Gibson stopped 30 shots. Gibson and several of his teammates also prevented Nashville from tying the score in the third period with saves on several shots from close range with 5:41 remaining.
Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators, and Viktor Arvidsson collected two assists. Pekka Rinne recorded 22 saves.
Game 3 is Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Ritchie, with an assist from Getzlaf, lifted the Ducks to a 4-3 lead by scoring with 2:53 remaining in the second. Two of his three goals in the playoffs have been game-winners. The other one occurred in Game 7 during the second round against the Edmonton Oilers.
"I think I was just trying to get the puck to the net," Ritchie said. "Actually, (Getzlaf) made a little tip pass in the middle that kind of messed their D up a little bit, and I shot the pick to the net and it went in."
Johansen gave the Ducks credit for coming back.
"They have a lot of talent out there," Johansen said. "That's not going to go away. They're a good team. They found a way to claw back."
Predators coach Peter Laviolette lamented his team allowing two goals within 1:39 near the end of the first and the start of the second period.
"I thought they came out and grabbed some momentum right at the end of the first period and they came out and scored another quick goal and I think the momentum shifted a little bit," Laviolette said. "But with that being said, I think we did a pretty good job in the neutral zone."
Johansen gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with a breakaway goal at 4:18 of the first period. Arvidsson flipped a pass ahead of the Ducks' defenders to hit a streaking Johansen, who slipped the puck by Gibson for his third goal of the postseason.
Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 1, made it 2-0 with a power-play tally at 8:32 of the first. Neal scored from point-blank range on an assist from Johansen for his fifth goal of the postseason.
With a minute left in the first, Vatanen fired a rocket past Rinne for a power-play goal to slice the Ducks' deficit to 2-1. For Vatanen, it was his first goal of the playoffs. It also ended an 0-for-20 drought on power plays in the last seven games for Anaheim.
Silfverberg knotted the score 39 seconds into the second period with his ninth postseason goal by cashing in a pass from Rickard Rakell.
Forsberg scored his fifth playoff goal at 7:59 for a 3-2 Nashville edge, but Kase tied it again with his first postseason goal at 10:41 of the second.
"It's huge," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of the win. "We know how important these games are. Every one gets more important as we go forward."
NOTES: Ducks RW Jakob Silfverberg passed Paul Kariya for fourth place on the franchise's all-time playoff goals list with his 15th. ... Predators C Ryan Johansen tied a club record for points (13) in the playoffs. ... The Predators had killed off 13 consecutive power plays and four straight against the Ducks before allowing D Sami Vatanen's first-period goal. ... The Ducks recalled G Jhonas Enroth, LW Nic Kerdiles and C Sam Carrick from AHL San Diego. All three were scratched, along with D Simon Despres (concussion), D Clayton Stoner (abdomen), D Kevin Bieksa (lower body), RW Patrick Eaves (lower body), D Korbinian Holzer and C Logan Shaw. ... Nashville did not dress D Alexandre Carrier (shoulder), LW Kevin Fiala (leg), D Petter Granberg, D Anthony Bitetto, RW P.A. Parenteau, RW Craig Smith, RW Miikka Salomaki, D Brad Hunt, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, G Marek Mazanec, LW Vladislav Kamenev, C Cody Bass and C Frederick Gaudreau
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