With the win, the Predators now have a 2-1 lead in the series.
It is apparent that the Ducks need the power play to generate their offense. Five on five, the Ducks have been quashed by the Predators. Should the Predators decide to stop taking stupid penalties- I'm talking to you Shane O'Brien- this series could be over quickly.
Ray Emery got the start for the Ducks, and he was outstanding early on, making some big saves to keep the Predators off the board. Pekka Rinne, on the other hand, had plenty of time to listen to his I-Pod and relax as the the Predators only allowed 10 shots through two periods. Although Rinne didn't get a tremendous amount of work- the Ducks only mustered 16 shots total for the game- he was still challenged and was called upon to make some big saves for the Predators.
The Predators fired 37 shots on Emery.
The Ducks were without
The Predators opened the game with good pressure in the offensive zone and a stifling defense that throttled the Ducks. As good as the pressure was by the Predators, they could not get a puck past Ray Emery, who was solid and made some good saves to thwart the Predators.
That would change in a 38 second span of the first period.Marty Erat would lift a puck over the shoulder of Emery at the 15:00 mark while the Predators were on the power play. Erat tallied with just 8 seconds left on the man advantage as he took a pass from Cody Franson and was able to beat Emery with the high shot.
On the next shift, Jordin Tootoo would drive hard to the net and bang a shot off the post. Tootoo followed his shot and backhanded the puck into the net to give the Predators a 2-0 advantage.
The Predators would continue their domination of the Ducks in the second period, creating some good scoring chances but unable to pot the nest goal. While the Predators looked in control of the game, one knew that the Ducks would assert themselves at some point in the contest.
That would occur with just under two minutes left in the second period. The Predators took an ill-advised penalty for elbowing- I'm looking at you Shane O'Brien- and the Ducks made them pay. Teemu Selanne was the beneficiary of a nice cross ice pass from Corey Perry to beat Rinne to make the score 2-1 at 18:10.
Selanne would strike again just 30 seconds later as he tallied an even strength goal off an assist from Perry. This was just the Ducks 4th even strength goal in the series, and we were knotted at 2-2 going into the third period.
The third period would see the Predators take a 3-2 lead on a goal by David Legwand, his first of the playoffs.Legwand's tally came at 5:25 of the third period off an assist from Ryan Suter.
Anaheim tied the game at 6:48 of the third as Saku Koivu launched a shot from the point. The puck hit a falling Matt Blelesky and caromed off the skate of Cody Franson and past Rinne to tie the game at 3. At best, this was a fluke goal, but a goal nevertheless.
The Predators would take a 4-3 lead as Mike Fisher nailed the game winner off a beautiful pass from Sergei Kostitsyn at 10:21 of the third. Kostitsyn had the puck outside the faceoff circle and spied Fisher driving the net. He rifled a nifty backhand pass to Fisher who beat Emery for the game winner.
The final 10:21 of the contest saw the Predators defense choke the life out the Ducks, as they mustered only three shots on goal in the remainder of the contest. Saku Koivu was called for a hooking penalty at 17:10, effectively limiting the chances of the Ducks to get Emery off the ice for the extra attacker.
As this series unfolds, the Predators have shown that they can absolutely dominate the Ducks five on five. The key for the Predators is to stay out of the box, as the Ducks are dangerous and have made the Predators pay for their crimes.
I'm talking to you, Shane O'Brien.
It was good to see the third and fourth lines have such a strong game. Jordin Tootoo has been very strong in this series, and it was good to see him rewarded with a goal tonight. The Predators are going to have to continue to have strong play out of these lines in this series.
The acquisition of Mike Fisher looks better and better. Fisher now has 3 goals in this series, has been solid on defense, and tonight continued to frustrate Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf got so frustrated, he dropped the gloves with Fisher, who got in some very good shots before the linesmen stepped in to separate them.
The Predators are going to have to play another strong game in the fourth game. I expect another push back from the Ducks. If the Predators play their game, it won't matter. They are better than the Ducks.
This win feels good. You got to get two more in this series, boys.
Continue to take care of business. Continue to play the strong game that you are playing. Continue to frustrate the Ducks and this series is yours.
Oh yeah, stay out of the box.
The Ducks can't score otherwise.
My three stars:
1. Mike Fisher
2. Teemu Selanne
3. Jordin Tootoo