The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at Bridgestone Arena in a contest that can only be characterized charitably as "chippy".
Heck, let's just call it the way it was. The Ducks were their typically classless and dirty selves.
The Predators set the tone for the contest by scoring just 14 seconds into the contest as Patric Hornqvist banged home a rebound of his own shot past Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller to make it 1-0 Predators.
The Ducks dirty play began at 7:14 of the first period as Francois Beauchemin hit Mike Fisher in the head from the blind side in open ice, knocking Fisher out of the game. Kevin Klein cam over to seek retribution against Beauchemin, but the Ducks defenseman turtled and wouldn't fight. Both players were assessed four minute double minors.
The Predators made it 2-0 at 18:59 of the first period as Marty Erat, playing in his first game since the opening game of the season, gained the zone and left a drop pass for Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo made a sweet pass to Erat, who one timed the puck from just inside the face off circle past Hiller. It was good to see Marty back on the ice and playing a strong game tonight.
Pekka Rinne started his 10th straight game for the Predators, and was strong in net in the first period. Although he didn't see a lot of work in the first- the Ducks only had 7 shots- he made some quality saves to keep the Ducks off the board.
The Predators tallied 16 shots on net in the first period. Yes, you read that correctly. The Predators outshot their opponent by a wide margin. The two first period goals were a direct result of making Hiller move and scramble throughout the period.
The second period was scoreless, with the Ducks outshooting the Predators 10-7. The Predators generated some scoring chances, but could not get one past Hiller. Once again, Rinne locked down the net for the Predators.
Throughout the contest, the Predators did a good job of limiting the Ducks on secondary scoring chances. Often, the Ducks would get one shot on goal and the Predators were in good defensive position to prevent shots off rebounds.
The Ducks reverted to form in the third period, taking four penalties, the cheapest of which was a Corey Perry spear of Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo had a strong game all night, and was clearly under the skin of the Ducks. Perry's frustration boiled over with his egregious cheap shot. If there is any justice, he will hear from the Shanahammer and be suspended for this cheap shot.
The Predators made it 3-0 at 2:14 of the third, as Shea Weber notched his first goal of the season on the power play with a blast from the blue line that Hiller never saw with a screen in front. It is good to see the big cannon unleashed from Weber and finding the back of the net.
Any thoughts of the Ducks getting back into the game were erased when Sheldon Brookbank to a double minor high sticking penalty at 14:05. The Predators stifled the Ducks for the remainder of the period to capture their second win in a row on home ice by a 3-0 margin.
Congratulations to Pekka Rinne, who recorded his 100th win for the Predators and his 22nd shutout, a franchise record. Rinne was solid, and his level of play has been consistently strong even when the team in front of him has struggled.
Now that it appears the team has found their identity and has begun to play Predator hockey, this team could start to make some noise.
With the win, the Predators go to 5-4-1 and 11 points. The positive aspect of this is that the team is starting to play Predator hockey. They are skating hard, aggressively forechecking, and the defense has begun to settle down and play sound hockey. This is Predator hockey, and it is a winning formula for this team.
We all knew that there would be growing pains for this young squad, and it was going to be important that they grow quickly. They last two games show me that they are starting to "get it" and hearing what the coaches are telling them. They are playing Predator hockey.
And that is winning hockey.
My three stars:
1. Pekka Rinne
2. Patric Hornqvist
3. Jordin Tootoo