Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Predators Capture the Season Series Over the Ducks With 3-2 Win

Some games, a team steals a win. That is just what the Nashville Predators did to the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators rode goals from Shea Weber, James Neal, and Mikka Salomaki to a 3-2 victory over the Ducks.

Rikard Rakell and Mike Santorelli tallied for the Ducks.

Weber staked the Predators to a 1-0 lead with the Predators on the man advantage. His blast from the point blew past Frederik Anderssen to give the Predators a 1-0 lead in the first period.

The Ducks tied it on Rakell's goal to tie the game at 10:47 of the first period as he beat Pekka Rinne on a wrap around to the far post..

James Neal broke the tie with his 9th goal of the season at 13:13 of the first period. Neal's goal came off a harmless flip from center ice that skipped in front of Anderssen and squirted between his pads.

Mikka Salomaki extended the lead to 3-1 as he tipped a shot from Mattias Ekholm between the pads of Anderssen.

That was it offensively for the Predators as the Ducks took over the game. Pekka Rinne made some outstanding saves, including stopping Carl Hagelin on a break away as well as the follow up shot from Hagelin.

The Ducks dominated possession in the third period and Mike Santorelli finally broke through, poking a puck into the net off a goal mouth scramble at 5:33 of the third period to make it 3-2.

The Predators managed to hang on behind the stellar play of Rinne to capture a hard fought- and very ugly- win by that one goal margin.

Some observations:

  • Rinne was outstanding tonight. he did a great job of tracking the puck through traffic, and there was a LOT of traffic in front of Rinne tonight. His save on the Hagelin break away was a thing of beauty and he thwarted the follow up by Hagelin as well. He also stopped Andrew Cogliano on a break away just a few moments later. The team rode the broad shoulders of Rinne to this win because the skaters in front of him were back on their heels for most of the night. This game was vintage Rinne. He had the aura of invincibility and it frustrated the Ducks all night. He made a season high 38 saves tonight.
  • This is the first game of the season where the Predators were totally dominated. The Ducks time of possession very lopsided in their favor and they kept the Predators back in their defensive zone from midway through the second period to the end of the game. The Ducks out shot the Predators 40-21 for the game. Their dominance started in the second period when they out shot the Predators 19-9 and in the third by an 11-4 margin. The Predators did not record their first shot on net in the third period until there was just 6:33 remaining.
  • The Predators did chase Anderssen, who gave up 3 goals on 10 shots, including the Steve Bernier-esque soft goal from center ice (Bernier is the Toronto goalie that gave up a similar goal last night). Anton Khudobin, who played last night in Carolina, finished the game.
  • The Ducks have the number one penalty kill in the NHL. Weber's goal on the Predators first power play was a missile that Anderssen never saw but must have heard as it whistled past him into the net.
  • However, the Ducks penalty kill took over after that power play goal. They stymied the Predators power play, often stealing the puck at the Predators blue line and creating some good scoring chances. The Predators were 1 for 7 on the power play and looked very ineffective against the Ducks penalty killers.
  • On the other side, though, the Predators penalty killers were stellar. The Ducks wer 0-8 on the man advantage.
  • The Predators took a lot of sloppy penalties, giving the Ducks too many chances in this games. Two tripping penalties, two roughing penalties, and unsportsmanlike conduct, and an interference penalty left the Predators a man down too often in this game.
  • Last season, James Neal had a total of 20 penalties. With 2 penalties tonight, Neal now has been called for 12 penalties so far this season. 
  • I really like the younger players- Salomaki and Watson in particular- being trusted in the penalty kill situation. They are logging some hard minutes and have earned the trust of the coaching staff with their play. This is critical for the this team in a long season to have these young players eating up some hard minutes.
  • Roman Josi picked up an assist on Weber's goal and that is his 100th assist in his career. he is the 6th Predators defenseman in history to record 100 assists.
  • The Predators went 3-1-1 on this 5 game home stand. It is so important to defend home ice, and the Predators have been making it tough for opponents to come into Bridgestone Arena.
  • The Ducks, as they are prone to do, decidied early on they wanted it to be a physical contest. Indeed, they thought they could goon it up and intimidate the Predators. In the first period, Kevin Bieksa decided to drop the gloves with Mike Fisher. Once the officials broke up the fight, Bieksa was minus a tooth and we saw no more running around from Bieksa for the rest of the game.You can see the fight, including a nice slow motion of Bieksa losing a chicklet here
This was not a pretty win, but it was a win, and they don't grade them on style points (thankfully).

Now the Predators embark on a tough roadie, with 6 games in 9 nights, including two sets of back to backs

They will have to play with the heart and mettle they have shwon recently.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mikka Salomaki

3. Shea Weber

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