ANAHEIM – They weren’t pretty, but they were enough to beat the Ducks on this night.
The visiting Nashville Predators had two less-than-picturesque goals in the first two periods, and goalie Pekka Rinne helped make them stand up in a 4-1 victory over Anaheim at Honda Center. The win snapped a three-game winning streak for the Ducks.
Despite plenty of chances, Anaheim could get little going offensively until finally breaking through with a Saku Koivu goal 11:46 into the third period to pull within one. But their attempts to tie the game were thwarted by Rinne and the Preds, and ultimately countered by two Nashville empty netters.
"Yeah we worked, but we just weren’t hungry enough or desperate to get in the areas to get those loose pucks and rebounds," Koivu said. "We weren’t able to create a lot of top quality scoring chances. We didn’t get enough traffic in front of their goaltender. The goalies are too good nowadays, so you are not going to score too many goals from outside shots."
Koivu made it 2-1 after winning a battle along with the wall with linemate Teemu Selanne, who slid the puck ahead to Dan Sexton. The recent call-up then hit Koivu in the slot, who got the bouncing puck to settle down enough to sling a wrister past Rinne.
But that was all the Ducks could muster, including during a man advantage with Jonas Hiller on the bench with a minute left. Nashville turned the tables when Sergei Kostitsyn took a pass from Patric Hornqvist at center ice and skated in before laying it into the abandoned net.
And on a night when little went right for the Ducks, Shea Weber poured salt into the wounds when he fired the puck off the wall in his own end and watched it slide past everyone into the still-empty net with 0.2 seconds left.
Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 lead through the first 40 minutes on two scores that were hardly candidates for the highlight reel. The first came 5:10 into the game, as Jarred Smithson charged in from the left corner to force the puck under Hiller, who couldn’t locate it as the play stopped. The call on the ice was no goal, but after a lengthy replay in which the puck still didn’t seem visible, it was overturned.
Hornqvist was ultimately credited with Nashville’s second goal, as a Kostitsyn pass into the crease appeared to go off Luca Sbisa’s right skate and into the open Ducks net. Kostitsyn was originally given credit for the goal, but later it was determined that Hornqvist got his skate on it.
The Ducks had plenty of chances to generate some scoring of their own, but Rinne (who now has a 1.94 goals-against average in nine career games vs. Anaheim) was stingy throughout the night. He was also bailed out on some of Ducks shots off the posts, a couple of which came from Matt Beleskey and Lubomir Visnovsky in the final period.
"We fired a lot of blanks," said ducks coach Randy Carlye. "It just seemed like the puck was doing funny things for us. In some of the situations they beat us in one-on-one battles with the puck. That was really the tell-tale story of the game.
"When we had an opportunity to execute we put pucks in people’s feet or we slapped it around a little too much. Our frustration level got up in the end specifically, not so much during the end. I thought we were pretty good as far as holding our composure. At the end, we got frustrated.
The game marked the debut of recent acquisition Maxim Lapierre, whom the Ducks brought in via trade with Montreal last week. Lapierre spent most of the game centering a line with Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry in the absence of Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf (out 4-6 weeks with nasal fractures).
"On one point, you have to be patient," Lapierre said. "It’s a new start and new system. There are no excuses. As the game was going on, I was feeling better and better."
Anaheim’s six-game homestand continues with a match against the Blue Jackets on Friday night.
"We worked hard tonight," Lapierre said. "We are not happy with the result, but we’ll be fine for the Columbus game."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks fall 4-1.
19:59 - NASHVILLE GOAL (EMPTY NET) - SHEA WEBER - Weber runs down the puck in the corner of his own end, fires it off the wall and it somehow misses everybody and rolls into the empty net with 0.2 left in the game. Salt in the wound for the Ducks.
19:08 - NASHVILLE GOAL (EMPTY NET) - ANDREI KOSTITSYN - After the Ducks can't go anything with the man advantage, Kostitsyn takes the puck at the redline from Hornqvist skates in and lays it into the empty net, just before Perry breaks his stick on the crossbar in frustration. This one's over.
18:18 - Ducks net empty.
18:18 - Rinne freezes the puck following an unsuccessful power play and the Ducks take timeout. Rocky music flows.
17:30 - Ducks with a few chances, but nothing good.
16:13 - NSH Penalty - Pekka Rinne, 2 min. tripping. Rinne puts the stick out and takes down Lapierre, drawing a roar from the crowd. Too bad they can't send Rinne to the box.
15:05 - Lubo gets the crowd ripe with anticipation as he cuts in and tries a backhand past a Sexton screen, but Rinne gets it with the blocker.
13:20 - Selanne cuts to the slot and nearly gets a backhand under Rinne. He continues to be active.
11:46 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - The Ducks finally get something going when Koivu helps win a battle against the wall with Selanne, who gets the puck to Sexton on the left wing. He hits Koivu in the slot, who catches and fires a shot past Rinne to get Anaheim within a goal. It's a whole new hockey game.
11:15 - Lapierre tries to deflect in a Ryan pass to no avail. Still, he's looking good centering that line with Ryan and Perry.
8:30 - Hiller stops a Hornqvist shot from straightaway. Trying to keep the Ducks in this.
5:40 - Visnovsky shot through a crowd gets past even Rinne, but hits metal.
5:35 - Ducks need something to happen, and soon.
5:30 - Lapierre retrieves a loose puck and sends a pinpoint pass to Perry, who just missed redirecting it in.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks give up an ugly one that's credited to Hornqvist and trail 2-0.
19:35 - Lapierre very active in the Nashville end.
17:02 - A Ryan shot from the point is deflected in the slot by Beleskey and rings the post. Dangit.
12:56 - NSH Penalty - David Legwand, 2 min. slashing. A big Ducks kill is followed by a Preds penalty. Here we go.
11:24 - Lapierre chases down the puck against the right wing wall and fires a slap shot that Rinne stops. Like it though.
10:34 - ANA Penalty - Andy Sutton, 2 min. boarding. Sutton rams Spaling into the wall and he can't believe the call.
Scoring change on the Nashville goal as they give it to Hornqvist (see below).
Honda Vision catches a dancing couple way up in the 400 level, the girl actually wearing a Ducks snuggie.
How do you not instinctively bob your head when "What is Love?" is playing during the timeout?
7:25 - McMillan tries to blindly backhand in a rebound off a Visnovsky shot, and though Selanne sneaks in behind Rinne, it never gets to him. McMillan is a little shaken up, by the way. I think he took that shot off the body.
4:08 - ANA Penalty - Andreas Lilja, 2 min. tripping. Lilja falls to the ice and takes down Svatos with the leg.
3:56 - NASHVILLE GOAL - PATRIC HORNQVIST (SCORING CHANGE FROM EARLIER) - Kostitsyn catches the puck in the right wing circle and tries to feed into the crease to Hornqvist, but the puck seemingly hits off Sbisa's right skate into the open net. A scoring change is announced later, as they determined that Hornqvist touched it with his skate. Either way, Sbisa hangs his head as there is complete silence in Honda Center after that one. It's 2-0 Nashville.
2:14 - Selanne from behind the net feeds Perry for the one-timer off Rinne and held.
1:40 - Fowler to Ryan for the one-timer from the circle.
0:59 - NSH Penalty - Shea Weber, 2 min. tripping. Ryan charges in, gets tripped from behind by Weber and bowls over Rinne.
0:00 - Back at it in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A delayed and heavily reviewed goal puts the Preds up 1-0 after 1.
19:52 - Ryan with a sick little spin move to get free from Suter at the blue line, then fires from the high slot into Rinne.
17:45 - Lapierre tries to sneak the puck through, off the leg pad.
16:30 - Sbisa is back.
15:10 - Sbisa takes a puck off the foot on a Nashville slap shot and heads to the locker room.
12:23 - Ryan's shot on the rush hits Rinne and pops into the air, as a charging Beleskey seemingly forces it under him while knocking the goalie over. But officials rule it's no goal. No review on this one.
11:32 - Maxim Lapierre with his first shot on goal as a Duck, from the left circle.
Liking the music tonight. Earlier was "What Would You Say?" by Dave Matthews Band and now it's "1901" by Phoenix.
8:23 - Parros and Belak agree to throw down, the two of them both landing a series of rights and lefts before Parros spins Belak to the sheet.
5:10 - NASHVILLE GOAL - JARRED SMITHSON - Smithson charges in from the left corner and tries to jam the puck under Hiller, who can't find the puck and the call on the ice is that he stopped it and froze it. But they go to replay review to try and locate the puck and determine whether it slipped under Hiller and got over the line. After a lengthy review they determine it is a good goal, even though there was no angle that actually showed, you know, the puck. Regardless, it's 1-0 Nashville.
Lots of buzz around here that Ducks prospect Igor Bobkov was in net as Russia stunned Canada 5-3 in the World Juniors final. Bobkov came into the game in relief with Russia down 3-0, had 20 saves and was named player of the game.
1:50 - Nice shot by Fowler from the right point, sticked away by Pekka Rinne ... enjoyed with a nice sprinkle of parmesan.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Nice job by Emily Van Gorder, who hasn't done the anthem here in quite some time. Starters in bold/italics.