ANAHEIM – The home ice advantage Anaheim seized on the last day of the regular season was abruptly taken away by the Nashville Predators on the first night of the playoffs.
Two Mike Fisher goals and a 27-save night by Pekka Rinne led the Predators to a 4-1 win over Anaheim in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, stunning a sellout crowd at Honda Center.
"We just didn’t have it," said Corey Perry, who was denied on all five shots he tried. "We weren’t on our game and weren’t executing."
The Ducks could get nothing past a stingy Rinne until a Teemu Selanne 5-on-3 goal with 8:36 left in the game with the Ducks already trailing by four goals. Saku Koivu picked up his own rebound behind the net and fed Selanne for the one-timer into the open left half of the net.
That was the first and last damage for the Ducks, who showed their frustration for much of the third in the form of several scraps after whistles.
"It’s more of a letdown in the fact that we didn’t execute the way we need to," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "You are going to win and lose in the playoffs. Every game is going to be a battle. We know we’re in for a long series. Our execution level definitely has to go up for the next game."
Nashville struck for the first goal of the series at 4:13 into the game on a power play following a Matt Beleskey cross checking penalty, when Shea Weber lasered a slap shot past a Patrick Hornqvist screen into the net.
Halfway through the first, Rinne robbed Selanne from point blank, probably the best of Anaheim’s few opportunities in the opening 40 minutes.
"He takes up a lot of the net," Perry said of Rinne. "That is why they are here. He’s brought them a long way. We know how good he is. We just have to get more traffic and more shots at him."
The Ducks fell into a 2-0 hole with 4:44 left in the middle session when Steve Sullivan ran down the puck, charged in on Dan Ellis and tapped in his own rebound with one hand on the stick.
The Ducks appeared demoralized after that goal, giving up another one less than three minutes later when a Mike Fisher wrist shot from the left faceoff dot flew over Ellis’ glove.
"I didn’t think it really got away from us until about the middle of the second period," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "We started to play as individuals. We got frustrated with our lack of execution. They did a very good job of getting inside and making it very difficult to get to the net. The pucks bounced away versus bouncing for us. I don’t think you can say we were happy with too many aspect of our game."
Any hopes of making a comeback in the third were dashed just 56 seconds in, when Fisher crossed into the Anaheim zone and beat Ellis with a wrist shot from the right wing. Ellis (who gave up four goals on 24 shots) was pulled immediately after that goal for Ray Emery, who had been held out of the last two regular season games with an undisclosed lower body injury. Emery stopped all six shots he faced as the Ducks will now have to decide who will be the Game 2 starter in net.
That Game 2 can’t come soon enough for the Ducks, who will try to even the series back at Honda Center on Friday night.
"You don’t expect to have a game like this, but that is why there are seven games in a series," Perry said. "You come out, win the next one and it’s all tied up again."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks fall 4-1 and go down 1-0 in the series.
20:00 - ANA Penalties - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. roughing and 10 min. misconduct. Perry nails Klein away from the play and that leads to some scrapping as time runs out.
19:40 - A late Perry slap shot is kicked away by Rinne. Story of the night.
19:15 - ANA Penalties - George Parros and Jarkko Ruutu, 10 min. each misconduct. Parros tries from the corner, but Rinne makes the stop, leading to another scrum after the whistle. Officials have had enough of that stuff. This one can't get over fast enough.
15:48 - NSH Penalty - Joel Ward, 2 min. hooking. Ducks get another power play.
13:33 - Rinne is on his rear as Winchester shoots, but the Ducks still can't cash in.
11:40 - Ryan gets dragged down from behind trying to score another one on a one-timer from the slot, no call.
11:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - TEEMU SELANNE - Ducks finally break through when Koivu's shot from near the right post gets stopped, but he picks it up behind the net and feeds Selanne for the one-timer into the open left half. It's 4-1 as the celebration is relatively subdued.
10:30 - Ducks on the power play still.
10:28 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. slashing and NSH Penalty - Kevin Klein, 4 min. roughing. Perry tries to jam the puck under Rinne and gets taken to task for it by Klein. They get into it and Klein starts whaling on Perry while he's being held by the official. Could be an ugly last 9 1/2 minutes.
9:50 - NSH Penalty - David Legwand, 2 min. hooking.
9:30 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. slashing and NSH Penalty - Blake Geoffrion, 2 min. cross checking. Sbisa rides Geoffrion into the wall, so he cross checks Sbisa in the back as he skates toward the bench. Sbisa with a quick slash in retaliation.
7:33 - ANA Penalty - Brad Winchestrer, 2 min. roughing. Winchester gives Hornqvist the business near the Anaheim bench.
5:41 - Perry fires wide right from the slot, then can't get to the rebound off the wall before Rinne covers.
4:30 - Marchant tries to hit Ryan on a breakaway, but can't make the connection.
2:43 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Broobank, 2 min. holding. Brookbank rams Tootoo into the wall with a forearm to the head, then checks him again from behind to try and kill the puck.
0:56 - NASHVILLE GOAL - MIKE FISHER - Fisher pucks up the puck at the red line from Blum, crosses into the zone and fires a wrist shot that beats Ellis. It's now 4-0 Preds.
0:45 - Ellis kicks away a Legwand shot.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Ducks needing to get something going early.
2nd Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Just as the horn blows on the period, Perry and Rinne start pushing and shoving with Perry not happy with something Rinne did. Frustrating period for the Ducks, who go down 3-0.
18:08 - NASHVILLE GOAL - MIKE FISHER - Fisher gets a pass from Hornqvist near the wall and fires from the left faceoff dot over Ellis' glove to make it 3-0 Nashville. Ducks have looked sluggish ever since that Sullivan goal.
16:50 - Koivu knocks the puck down and fires just wide from the slot.
15:16 - NASHVILLE GOAL - STEVE SULLIVAN - Sullivan is hanging around the Anaheim blue line as he runs down an arching pass from Franson. He charges in on Ellis, who briefly knocks the puck away, but Sullivan is able to punch it in with one hand. It's 2-0 Preds.
14:20 - Getzlaf leaps to pull down a Rinne clearing attempt and feeds Perry, who nearly jams the puck under the goalie.
12:39 - NSH Penalty - Shane O'Brien, 2 min. interference. O'Brien bumps Perry as they both chase the puck. Ducks have the chance to turn some momentum here.
12:10 - Beleskey slot shot gets under Rinne but goes just wide.
10:41 - O'Brien gives Winchester a pretty good shot just before the whistle for the puck going out of play.
Fans are asked to vote or the best playoff beard between Scott Hartnell, Lanny McDonald and Scott Niedermayer. Now who do ya think they'll vote for?
5:10 - Klein appears to dive over Ellis away from the puck. No penalty as he makes a bit of contact.
4:15 - Brookbank's slap shot is tipped by Ryan barely wide, and the Ducks nearly punch in the rebound. Close call.
3:00 - Preds try to throw it off Ellis' back after he loses sight of the puck to no avail. Another kill, seconds later, for Anaheim.
1:10 - ANA Penalty - Teemu Selanne, 2 min. tripping. Selanne trips up Erat, holds his hands up like he didn't do anything, but gets the penalty.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, with Perry back on the bench.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Weber gets the first goal of the series and Nashville leads it 1-0.
19:54 - Blake nearly sneaks one past Rinne from the high slot, but he gloves it near the right post.
19:00 - Just as Perry's coming off the bench in some pain after getting hit in the hand by a high Sbisa shot, Sbisa dives to knock away a pass to an open Pred.
17:47 - Ellis robs Hornqvist, who was all alone for a one-timer.
15:45 - Getzlaf nails Klein into the glass.
13:35 - As Brookbank holds the puck in the corner, he takes a blatant punch to the back of the head from Smithson. Somehow there is no call.
12:45 - Scary moment as the puck gets loose and bounces around in front of Ellis, but he holds his ground.
11:10 - Rinne robs Selanne from in deep. He's tough already.
During the timeout, they do something on the video board showing the Rocket Richard Trophy, with the message, "The Current Winner of the Rocket Richard Is..." then they try to show Perry, but Koivu is blocking him from view. That didn't work out too well.
10:05 - Ducks get a big kill on Beleskey's second penalty. 2-0 this early would have been tough.
8:05 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. boarding. Beleskey pushes Kostitsyn face first into the wall in front of the Anaheim bench and the Ducks don't like the call.
6:46 - Selanne gets in deep and Rinne just does stop the puck under his pad.
5:53 - NSH Penalty - Shane O'Brien, 2 min. high sticking. The former Duck gets Blake in the mug in the corner. First Ducks power play of the series. They were third in the NHL this season in PP% and Nashville was fifth in PK%.
4:13 - NASHVILLE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - SHEA WEBER - Weber shows off his rocket of a shot by taking a feed from Fisher, and just in front of the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo at the point, fires through a Hornqvist screen and past Ellis. It's 1-0 Preds.
3:11 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. cross checking. Beleskey knocks down Kevin Klein (who was great in A Fish Called Wanda, by the way) into the wall in the corner of the Nashville end. Crowd doesn't like it.
Great energy in the building so far.
0:35 - Blake gets just behind the defense, but loses the puck to a Rinne poke check in front.
0:00 - And we're underway in Game 1 at Honda Center. Feels good.
7:39 - Fan favorite Dawn Wright belts out another passionate anthem.
7:36 p.m. - Huge ovation from the towel-waving crowd as the Ducks come out on the ice. Selanne gets some major screaming as his name is announced in the starting lineup, just as he's talking in Ellis ear before giving him a stick tap on the leg.
7:32 p.m. - Awesome opening montage teaser with John Ahlers narrating the past Ducks season, followed by a list of individual accomplishments. After that, various Ducks talking to the camera about what it takes in the playoffs. "You must seize the moment," by Selanne gets big applause. "This is our house (Getzlaf) ... Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Parros)." Serious chills.