Saturday, February 8, 2014

Predators Battle But Can't Defeat the Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena 5-2.

If one just looked at the score, you might conclude that the Ducks dominated the Predators. And while the Ducks prevailed on the scoreboard, the game was anything but a dominating contest.

It was a game of crazy bounces, as the first three goals of the game were...weird. Or lucky, depending on your perspective.

The Predators opened the scoring as Viktor Stalberg, returning to the line up after being out five games with an upper body injury, got his stick on a rebound of a Victor Bartley shot and slapped the puck toward the net, A sprawling Jonas Hiller stopped the puck with his body but the puck crawled over his chest and landed on the ice behind him. Hiller reached back and tried to control the puck but knocked it into the net to get the Predators on the board at 11:35 of the first period.

The Ducks tied it at 18:49 of the first period as Ryan Getzlaf threw the puck at the net and it glanced off the backside of Mike Fisher and re-directed past Carter Hutton.

The Ducks took a 2-1 lead as Corey Perry tried to backhand a pass from below the goal line that deflected off Bartley and over the shoulder of Hutton at 11:45 of the second period.

The third period opened with the Predators on the power play and Mike Fisher tallied with a slap shot from the slot over the shoulder of Hiller at 1:05 to tie the game at 2.

The Ducks regained the lead as Hampas Lindholm took a shot from the blue line that was re-directed by Emerson Etam in traffic at 4:51 of the third period.

The Ducks made it 4-2 as Mathieu Perreault was left alone at the front of the net while both teams battled for control of the puck on the boards. Daniel Winnick got control of the puck and quickly got the pass to Perreault who beat Hutton with a quick snap shot at 8:04 of the third.

Getzlaf sealed it with an empty net goal at 19:24 of the the third.

Some observations:

  • I thought Hutton played a solid game. The first two goals by the Ducks were flukes and the next two were quality goals that would be difficult for most any goalie to stop. Hutton is 6-2-2 in his last 10 games.

  • I liked the line of Stalberg, Simon Moser, and Colin Wilson. They has good chemistry and used their speed to create chances. Moving Stalberg off the fourth line has been a move that should have been made a long time ago, and tonight, this line was one of the best for the Predators. Moser picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Stalberg's goal.

  • Fisher's power play goal was the first power play tally for the Predators in three games.

  • The effort by the Predators tonight was outstanding. They were physical, moved the puck well, and out shot the Ducks 38-24. This game points out the dilemma that the Predators face; a hard working, gritty team faced a hard working, gritty team with exceptional offensive talent. And that offensive talent was the deciding factor in this game. Obviously, grit and effort are important, but it helps to have offensive talent to go along with those traits.

  • The Ducks have now defeated the Predators in five straight games.
The Predators now have 19 days off to rest and regroup.

They will need the time to recharge for the final push after the Olympic break.

My three stars:

1. Ryan Getzlaf

2. Jonas Hiller

3. Viktor Stalberg

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