ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks were down a game in the Western Conference finals and down 2-0 in Game 2 against Pekka Rinne, the most dominant goalie in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
That's when Sami Vatanen got the puck and thought he saw a sliver of room over Rinne's shoulder.
"So I just closed my eyes and shot it in there," Vatanen said with his usual Finnish deadpan delivery.
After every slow start and tight game over their past month, not much can ruffle these Ducks. Once they opened a crack in Rinne and the Nashville Predators, they started a deluge that evened the series.
Nick Ritchie broke a tie late in the second period, and Anaheim roared back from that early two-goal deficit for a 5-3 victory Sunday night.
Just when the Ducks appeared to be in serious danger of losing two consecutive home games to start their second straight series, they made a thrilling surge of four goals in less than 19 minutes.
"Everybody says we go about it the hard way, but as long as we get the job done," shrugged goalie John Gibson, who stopped 30 shots.
Vatanen, Jakob Silfverberg and Ondrej Kase also scored for the Ducks before Antoine Vermette added an empty-netter. The Predators hadn't given up four goals in any playoff game this year.
"I wish we didn't get down in the first place, but I think we have three or four lines that get going and just keep punching through," Ducks forward Rickard Rakell said.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Nashville.
Rinne made 22 saves and Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators.
Nashville has a serious challenge now, and adversity has arrived in the form of Ryan Kesler, the Ducks' defense-minded center. Johansen had a goal and an assist, but Kesler's well-known style of physical play already has burrowed under his skin.
"I mean, it just blows my mind watching," Johansen said. "I don't know what's going through his head over there. Like his family and his 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."