Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ducks Defeat the Predators In A Shootout 4-3

Apparently the Nashville Predators really like playing hockey.

So much so that for the second game in a row, 60 minutes and overtime was not enough to decide a contest.

The Ducks defeated the Predators in a shootout 4-3 in a spirited contest.

The Predators were in the Honda Center to face the Anaheim Ducks in a battle of two of the top teams in the NHL.

The Ducks got a first period goal from Matt Belesky to take a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

Mattias Ekholm answered with a goal early in the second to tie the game. That goal was promptly answered by Corey Perry on a redirected shot past Carter Hutton.

The Predators answered with two power play goals as they peppered Frederik Andersen with shots. Seth Jones tallied from the point with a shot through traffic and Craig Smith potted a goal from up close off an Andersen rebound.

The Ducks tied it up with 2:17 remaining in the game as Francois Beauchemin was able to jam home a puck in  scramble in front of Hutton.

In the shoot out, Jakob Silfverberg and Craig Smith scored. Wtih the game on the line, Ryan Kessler beat Hutton for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • James Neal missed his second game due to injury. Matt Cullen was also out of the line up, also due to injury.
  • Mattias Ekholm continues to grow his game. He has been sound defensively and has not been one to shy away from the physical aspects of the game, but his offensive game is starting to show some emergence. Matty Ek has a surprisingly good shot and he has done a good job of picking his spots to jump into the offensive zone.
  • The Predators power play has started to show some life. Better puck movement and screening in front have worked to drag the PP out of the dumps. Seth Jones tallied on the Predators first power play of the game and that goal was made possible by Colin Wilson screening in front and taking away the eyes of Andersen.
  • Mike Ribeiro had an outstanding game, distributing the puck and picking up three assists. Ribeiro has been unquestionably one of the best- if not the best- off season acquisitions by David Poile.
  • Craig Smith has great hockey sense and his score on the power play was just a result of knowing where to go at the front of the net. Smith uses his speed and hockey savvy well to get to the scoring areas and it is good to see him rewarded for his efforts.
  • There is no doubt the Ducks are a talented team. They are also a team that likes to try to throw their weight around and goon it up when things don't go their way. The Predators matched the physicality of the Ducks hit for hit and refused to yield the ice in front of their net, somehting they didn't do against the Kings the previous night. That said, the Predators gave up the tying goal late in the game when they were unable to clear traffic in front of Hutton, allowing the Ducks to jam home the tying goal.
  • The Predators forecheck did a good job of disrupting the Ducks rush through the neutral zone. When the Ducks come into the zone with speed, they are extremely dangerous. They had some opportunities tonight, but the Predators for the most did a good job of slowing down the Ducks attack.
  • Carter Hutton played his best game of the season in net. The first goal he gave up to Belesky was definitely stoppable, and Hutton has shown a disquieting tendency to give up those types of goals. Yet after that, he battled and made some great saves. He had no chance on the Perry redirect, and he needed some help from his defense to clear the front of the net on the tying goal. Regardless, I thought he competed well and was solid throughout the game.
  • A tough back to back with four critical points on the line and the Predators picked up three of the possible 4. I hate giving that second point to the Ducks, but keep it in perspective. The team battled two quality opponents and captured the points. They took the best team in the League to a shootout on the second night of a back to back and with the back up netminder between the pipes. I will take that.
The Predators competed but couldn't capture the second point tonight. Yet this team is competing hard and playing well and I certainly will take their effort and the results that they are generating.

With their 54 points, the Predators are second in the NHL, having played 38 games.

Just gotta keep it rolling.

My three stars:

1. Mike Ribeiro

2. Ryan Ellis

3. Ryan Kessler 

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