Sunday, January 27, 2013

Predators Go to the SO (Again), Lose to the Ducks 3-2

The Nashville Predators were looking to rebound from a 3-0 drubbing by the St. Louis Blues as they traveled to the Honda Center to take on the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were flattened by the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in their last game on Friday night.

The Predators have won 6 consecutive regular season games against the Ducks and were attempting to keep that streak alive in their first meeting of the season.

The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net, while the Ducks went with Viktor Fasth as Jonas Hiller had the start the night before.

The key to the Predators getting back on track was simple: they had to control the puck, get through the neutral zone, and get shots on net.

The Predators did just that with their fourth line on the ice as Brandon Yip broke in 2 on 1 with Rich Clune. Fasth stopped Yip's initial shot but gave up a juicy rebound that Yip gathered in a fired into the net to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 1:52 of the first period. This was Yip's first goal of the year.

The remainder of the first period saw both teams trade some good scoring chances. In particular, Pekka Rinne had to come up with a big save off a flurry in front of the net to keep the Ducks off the board. The shots on goal were 7 apiece in the first period.

For the Predators, they had better jump and skated much better than they did in the game against the Blues.

The Predators opened the second period with good jump and had a decided advantage in the offensive zone. Although they peppered Fasth with shots, they couldn't get a puck past the rookie netminder. It was going to be important for the Predators to keep up the offensive pressure in this game.

Although the Predators had the 1-0 lead and had controlled much of the play in the second period, the lead felt uneasy as the Ducks were just one good shot from tying the game. That sense of foreboding became a reality with just 32 seconds remaining in the period as Cam Fowler took a hard wrist shot from the point that was re-directed by Stompin' Bobby Ryan past Rinne to tie the game at one.

The shots were 6 for each team in the second period.

The third period was going to be a test of character for the Predators. They had to keep up the pressure and continue to skate hard. 

The third period was wide open, with both teams getting some good scoring chances and both keepers equal to the task.

The Predators broke the tie at 10:09 of the third period as they had good offensive zone presence. Kevin Klein took a shot from the high slot and Fasth gave up a rebound that David Legwand gathered in slid a backhand in to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

The Ducks tied the game just over a minute later as Corey Perry drove the left side of the Predators defense and was able to get a pass to Daniel Winnik. Winnik out worked Hal Gill to get his stick on the puck and tipped it past Rinne, who had no chance on the shot.

Neither team could score, although each had several good chances, and for the third time in five games, the Predators were heading to overtime.

Shots were 19-19 at the end of the regulation time.

The Predators lost Patric Hornqvist in the third period as he took a Shea Weber slapshot off his thigh and was able to fight through that injury, but was lost when Ryan Getzlaf fell on his leg at an awkward angle.

In the extra period, both the Predators and the Ducks had some glorious scoring chances, but neither team could capitalize. So for the third time this season, the Predators were heading to a shootout and were looking for their first victory in the skills competition.

The Predators sent Marty Erat, Mike Fisher, and David Legwand out in the shootout, and all were stopped by Fasth. Ryan Getzlaf was stopped by Rinne, but Corey Perry scored the lone goal to give the Ducks the win.

This was a much better effort by the Predators. Once again, they desperately need to finish some of their scoring chances, but I cannot fault their jump and their effort.

This is a team that continues to gel. It is going to be important for them to gel quickly and begin to get some regulation wins.

My three stars:

1. Viktor Fasth

2. Brandon Yip

3. Daniel Winnik

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