In 13 incredible minutes, the Anaheim Ducks sent them packing with maybe their most impressive comeback victory in a season full of escapes.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf scored early in the third and Cam Fowler added a power-play goal as the Ducks roared back from two scoreless periods in a meeting of division leaders, reclaiming sole possession of the Western Conference lead and a share of the overall NHL lead.
“When you get the crowd into it, they always believe that can do it,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It makes life a little easier when you believe you can do it.”
Anaheim scored four goals in 12:39 to earn its NHL-leading 11th victory when trailing after two periods. Those imposing numbers still don't capture the energy of Anaheim's comeback against a top defensive team fronting Pekka Rinne, one of the NHL's best goalies.
When the Ducks finally got rolling, not even Nashville could contain them.
“It's like a momentum wave when we get the lines going like that,” said Thompson, the grinding forward who got the tiebreaking goal with 10:09 left. “You could see it in the third period. We just have to be sure to sustain it throughout the game next time.”
John Gibson made 25 saves as Anaheim won its second straight after a three-game skid, staying even with the New York Rangers atop the overall standings with 95 points apiece.
“Any time you go down a couple of goals, you have to have the belief that no matter what happens, you can still come back and make a game of it,” Fowler said. “We've proven throughout the year that that's something we can do.”
Nashville and Anaheim entered the game with identical records and a share of the conference lead with 11 games left in the regular season. After getting off to an awful start in March, the Predators were in position for another big win after edging the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Saturday night.
“Obviously, any time you get to play for the top spot in the league, it's big,” said Rinne, who stopped 24 shots. “We lost a big one, but we're still battling for home ice overall.”
Roman Josi and Taylor Beck scored in Nashville's eighth loss in 10 games. The Predators lost in regulation when leading after two periods for just the third time in 30 games this season.
“They stepped up and made us turn the puck over too many times,” Nashville forward Craig Smith said. “It's a tough game. It's tough when you lose a lead like that.”
After a scoreless first period, Beck put the Predators ahead early in the second when Corey Perry's pass at mid-ice went far behind Fowler and set up a 2-on-1. Josi then doubled Nashville's lead on a power play when his long shot deflected off Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin's stick for the Swiss defenseman's first goal in 10 games.
Anaheim didn't manage a shot in the first 13 minutes of the second period, continuing its season-long struggles in the middle frame.
But Getzlaf broke up Rinne's shutout bid with his 23rd goal on a setup by Perry. Seven minutes later, Palmieri was left alone to snap a perfectly placed shot past Rinne for his 13th goal.
With Nashville scrambling, Thompson seized a chance on the next shift, beating Rinne for his fourth goal of the season. Fowler then put a long shot through Rinne with 5:09 to play.