ANAHEIM – Just as they did throughout the regular season, the Ducks didn’t make it easy on themselves, but they did enough to earn a crucial 5-3 victory over the Predators in Game 2 at Honda Center.
Despite taking a 4-1 lead into the third period, Anaheim couldn’t rest easy until Bobby Ryan scored an empty-netter with 52.6 seconds left in the game to seal a victory that evened this Western Conference Quarterfinals series at a game apiece.
Soon after a faceoff in the Anaheim end with just under a minute left, Cam Fowler banked the puck off the wall to Ryan, who skated to the Nashville blue line before sending the puck inside the right post. The goal was Ryan’s second of the game, as he and linemates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf enjoyed a big night with eight combined points (including four goals).
The Predators started to make things a little tense in a sold-out Honda Center 1:30 into the third period on a power play goal by Patric Hornqvist that made it 4-2 Ducks. Things got even more anxious with 9:43 left in the game when Joel Ward scored on a one-timer from the slot to cut Anaheim’s lead to a single goal.
But the Ducks were able to hang tough down the stretch, thanks in great part to goalie Ray Emery, who had 31 saves on the night. Emery, who entered Game 1 in relief after recovering from a lower body injury, made his first playoff start since Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final against the Ducks while with the Ottawa Senators.
"It’s an honor to be on a great team," said Emery, signed by the Ducks last February after missing nearly a year with a major hip injury. "At Christmastime this year, it’s something I never expected, to play in a playoff game. I’m really appreciative for the opportunity and I want to make the most of it."
Emery made his biggest stop of the game about eight minutes into the second period with the Ducks holding a two-goal lead. He poked the puck away from a charging Martin Erat, then was flat on his stomach when he somehow gloved the follow-up attempt by Kevin Klein.
The Ducks got the quick start it was looking for with two power play goals within 38 seconds of each other from Perry and Teemu Selanne in the first period.
Slashing penalties from Erat and Shane O’Brien set the table for a two-man advantage that the Ducks cashed in when Saku Koivu made a pretty pass across the top of the crease to Perry, who went to a knee to bang it into the open net at 5:24.
With the Ducks still on the man advantage, Fowler tossed the puck on net from the right point, where it kicked off the boot of Preds defenseman Jonathan Blum to Selanne, who served it under goalie Pekka Rinne.
"It was huge and it set the tone for the game," said Ryan of those power play goals. "It gave us a little bit of a comfort level to roll with throughout that first period. They came back and threw everything they had at us."
Nashville cut into the lead 4 1/2 minutes into the middle session on a power play goal stemming from a skirmish between George Parros and Jerred Smithson in which Parros got four minutes for roughing while Smithson got two. Emery made a lunging save on a Shea Weber one-timer, but had trouble locating the puck as Weber got it back seconds later and threw it by him.
The Ducks went back in front two goals when Getzlaf set up a charging Ryan for a redirect that deflected off Rinne, and Ryan tapped in the rebound.
"(Rinne) is a heck of a goalie," Ryan said. "Game 1 he saved everything we threw at him. Tonight we got some fortunate bounces and we were happy to capitalize. It makes us feel like he’s a little vulnerable back there at least because he has been such a wall for them all season. Hopefully the flood gates are open maybe."
Anaheim increased that lead on a Getzlaf goal with 4:06 left in the period when Perry made a move behind the net before sending it in front, where it kicked off a skate to Getzlaf, who whipped it home.
That should have been plenty of insurance for the Ducks, who instead had to buckle down over an intense final stretch to earn the much-needed victory.
"They are a grinding team and we knew that they weren’t going to lie down," Emery said. "After they made it 4-3, we did a good job of controlling things, getting pucks deep, simplifying things and not giving them much after that."
The newly evened series turns to Nashville, where the Ducks and Predators go at it Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
With tonight’s win, the Ducks improved their all-time postseason record in GAME 2 of a series to 11-7. The club has won Game 2 in each of their last three playoff series’ (also Game 2 of the CQF at SJ on Apr. 19, 2009 and Game 2 of the CSF on May 3, 2009 in triple OT).
The Ducks have improved their all-time postseason record at HOME to 32-17 (.653 win percentage).
This marks the fifth time the Ducks have played a playoff series in which the teams have split the first two games. The Ducks have won three of the previous four such series: 2006 vs. CGY in CQF (Ducks in 7), 2007 vs. VAN in CSF (Ducks in 5), 2007 vs. DET in WCF (Ducks in 6), 2009 vs. DET in CSF (DET in 7). The series vs. Vancouver was the only series in which the Ducks began with home ice advantage.
Ryan Getzlaf’s 1-2=3 points tonight ties his postseason career high (also May 3, 2009 at Detroit in Game 2 of the CSF, 1-2=3). His 17-34=51 points in 58 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Anaheim ranks second all-time. His game-winning goal tonight accounted for the fifth of his postseason career, which ranks tied for second all-time in Ducks history (with Scott Niedermayer).
Francois Beauchemin matched his playoff-high with two assists tonight (fourth time, last: May 17, 2007 in Game 4 of the WCF vs. DET).
Teemu Selanne has scored a goal in each of the last three postseason contests in which he has appeared, dating back to Game 7 of the CSF at Detroit on May 14, 2009 (3-0=3 in that span). In 73 career postseason contests with Anaheim, Selanne leads the club in all-time scoring (28-27=55).
Corey Perry’s matched his postseason career high for points in a game with 1-2=3 tonight (also May 7, 2009 in Game 4 of the CSF vs. DET, 2-1=3). His 17-21=38 career playoff points ranks third all-time in Ducks history.
Tonight marked Bobby Ryan’s second career postseason multi-goal and multi-point game (also Apr. 23, 2009 in Game 4 of the CQF vs. SJ, 2-0=2).
Lubomir Visnovsky’s assist tonight accounted for his second career playoff point (also had an assist on Apr. 27, 2002 in Game 6 of the CQF vs. COL).
Cam Fowler collected his first two career postseason points tonight (0-2=2).
Ray Emery stopped 31-of-34 shots tonight and recorded his 19th career playoff win. Dating back to his first appearance with Anaheim on Mar. 13 of the 2010-11 regular season, Emery has stopped 289-of-312 shots for a .926 SV% and 2.28 GAA (23 GA/606 MIN).
Tonight’s attendance was 17,174, a sellout.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Towels waving throughout the building as the Ducks pull off a huge 5-3 victory to even the series 1-1.
19:07 - ANAHEIM GOAL (EMPTY NETTER) - BOBBY RYAN - Seconds after the faceoff in the Anaheim end, Fowler picks up the puck in the corner and banks it of the wall to Ryan, who picks it up at center ice, skates to the blue line and sends it into the empty net. Crowd comes alive as the Ducks take a 5-3 lead to all but put this game away.
18:59 - Ducks ice it with 1:01 left. Nervous time in Honda Center.
18:40 - Rinne to the bench.
18:30 - Ducks spending a ton of time in their end and barely getting away with it.
16:30 - Ryan gets the crowd excited with a steal, but he's one-on-one with Weber and gets stood up off the puck.
15:28 - Nice stretch pass by Rinne comes to Hornqvist, who shoots it into Emery's leg pads.
14:55 - Selanne tries to play the puck to himself off the wall to get on the rush and gets upended with a hip check by Kostitsyn. No penalty.
14:29 - TV timeout with 5:31 left. Crunch time for Anaheim.
14:25 - Nice play by Cameron Fowler to ride Kostitsyn behind the net and then poke the puck away.
10:17 - NASHVILLE GOAL - JOEL WARD - Okay, it's scary time now, as Erat (who appears to be alright) sends the puck from behind the net to Ward in the slot, and he one-times it under Emery to make it 4-3 Ducks. Time to buckle down over the last 9:43.
9:00 - Another big stop by Emery, this time on Kostitsyn.
8:21 - Erat appears to take an elbow to the face from Broobank and is shaken up. He heads off to the locker room after getting some help. No penalty.
4:30 - Emery a big stop and a lucky break when the rebound goes under Ward's stick.
2:53 - ANA Penalty - Brad Winchester, 2 min. high sticking. Winchester gets knocked off his skates by Smithson, who fakes getting hit in the face to draw the high sticking. Absolutely ridiculous.
1:30 - NASHVILLE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - PATRIC HORNQVIST - Nashville cashes in the power play when Weber throws a pass in front to Hornqvist, who easily deposits it into the wide open net. It's 4-2 Ducks.
0:31 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. roughing. Sbisa gets tangled with Hornqvist, though I'm not sure where the penalty came from.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
Steve Carroll and Dan Wood provide commentary for radio and in-arena during the intermission, inexplicably with a picture of John Ahlers hanging on the wall behind them.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Another solid period for the Ducks, who get goals from Ryan and Getzlaf to combat one from Weber to go up 4-1.
19:45 - Beleskey shaken up by something and heads to the room.
Three dudes in full orange bodysuits sitting by the Anaheim penalty box get some love on the Honda Vision. Love the passion.
Some chants of "Reeeeeee-nay" fill Honda Center.
15:54 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - Perry reverses his field behind the net and tries to feed in front to Ryan. The puck hits a skate or two and kicks over the Getzlaf, who holds it for a half second before whipping it past Rinne up high, holding his hands in the air in triumph. It's 4-1 Ducks. HUGE goal as we get close to the later part of the second.
13:48 - NSH Penalty - Blake Geoffrion, 2 min. interference. Ducks nearly get one on the delayed whistle, as a pinching-in Brookbank is just denied by the left post on the one-timer off a Koivu feed. Wow, that was close. Ducks on the PP.
13:21 - Emery with a solid stop on a pinching-in Weber with the backhand.
11:56 - Lydman with a hard glove to the face of Hornqvist after an Emery save. Thankfully no penalty.
11:21 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. interference. Ryan gives Suter a shove in the back away from the puck. Emery was convinced the penalty was coming against the Preds and headed to the bench before scrambling back.
9:20 - Blake appears to get tripped behind the net by Fisher, but no call.
8:08 - Emery with the save(s) of the game as he pokes the puck away from Erat, who got behind Sbisa, then somehow gloves the rebound try by Klein while flat on his belly. Wow.
7:12 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Beauchemin makes a stretch pass out of his own end to Getzlaf, who feeds to a charging Ryan up the middle. Ryan redirects the puck off Rinne, then punches in the rebound, as the crowd goes berserk. Ryan leaps off the glass as Honda Center is a sea of flying orange towels. It's 3-1 Ducks. First even-strength goal of the series, bee tee dub.
6:45 - Young line of McMillan, Bonino and Beleskey (combined age: 16) doing a nice job buzzing around the net and keeping the puck pinned in.
4:29 - NASHVILLE GOAL (POWER PLAY) - SHEA WEBER - Emery makes a big stop to deny Weber on a one-timer, but then has trouble locating the puck as it moves around the net and Weber slings it by him to make it a 2-1 game.
4:05 - Hornqvist nearly jams it in after a Weber rocket goes off the wall.
3:07 - ANA Penalty - George Parros, 4 min. roughing and Jerred Smithson, 2 min. roughing. Parros is fired up as he and Smithson collide and then Smithsom drags him against the glass. A little mayhem ensues as all 10 skaters get involved, with Tuutu jumping on Broobank from behind. Only penalties for the instigators, as Parros gets an extra two.
1:50 - Emery with a nice stop on Geoffrion from the slot as the Ducks get sloppy.
0:00 - Ducks start the second period with Visnovsky out on the ice. Good news.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Crowd on its feet to cheer a very nice opening period for the Ducks, as they get goals from Perry and Selanne to go up 2-0.
17:45 - Selanne makes a cute little move to send O'Brien spilling at center ice. Crowd loves it.
17:05 - Fowler shot is kick saved and Getzlaf has the rebound, but he passes instead of shoots and it's knocked away.
15:59 - Silence in the arena as Beauchemin and Visnovsky collide and Visnovsky takes an elbow to the head. He's down around center ice and gets helped off by Beauchemin and trainer Tim Clark. Hoping big time he's okay. He actually walks down the hallway on his own, which is a good sign.
15:30 - Kostitsyn falls down trying to make a stretch pass and the puck ends up with Perry, whose wrister is stopped.
15:08 - NSH Penalty - David Legwand, 2 min. goaltender interference. Nashville gets an apparent goal that's waved off immediately by referee Francois St.-Laurent, who determines (correctly) that Legwand ran into Emery's leg as he was trying to make the kick save. Not only is the goal waved off, but the power play is wiped out. GREAT call.
14:28 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. interference. Fifth power play of the game already. Yeesh.
12:50 - Rinne gets all bamboozled trying to play a puck behind the net that came off the glass awkwardly.
11:50 - NSH Penalty - David Legwand, 2 min. tripping. Bonino (getting his first action of the series) takes the puck away and gets pulled down by Legwand. Third of the game already for Nashville.
8:51 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. slashing. More slashes than a horror film so far. More slashes than a Guns 'N Roses lookalike contest.
8:40 - Emery stops Hornqvist from point blank.
Same friend who emailed "Well, that didn't go as planned" after Game 1 just texted, "Well, that did go as planned."
6:02 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - TEEMU SELANNE - And just like that, the Ducks get another one when Fowler tosses the puck in front and it deflects off the skate of Blum right to Selanne, who pushes it under Rinne from the slot. It's 2-0 as this crowd goes absolutely batty. Feels good to be in here right now.
5:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - COREY PERRY - With time winding down on the two-man advantage and the Ducks moving the puck around, Koivu finally sends a pretty feed across the top of the crease, where Perry goes to a knee to bat it into the open left half. Ducks go up 1-0 and still have 53 seconds of PP time left.
4:55 - Ducks take awhile to take a shot on the 5-on-3 and after a Rinne stop, Carlyle uses his timeout.
4:18 - NSH Penalty - Shane O'Brien, 2 min. slashing. O'Brien chops down on Getzlaf's hand, and he's furious with the call. Getting all up in the referee's mug.
3:30 - NSH Penalty - Martin Erat, 2 min. slashing. Erat chops down on Perry's right hand. Chance for the Ducks to make a statement early.
2:05 - Parros whips a shot on net.
0:20 - Getzlaf robbed by the outstretched arm of Rinne while trying to chip in a rebound off a Visnovsky shot. Could have been a nice one early.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:40 p.m. - Nice job by Brad Haynes on the anthem, though his name was misspelled "Brady" on the game sheet. That's got to be a good sign, right? Emery with the traditional rush into net on "land of the freeee....." to bow his head under the crossbar.
7:37 p.m. - Fans get loud and twirl those towels as the Ducks hit the ice. Gonna be a good night, I can feel it.
Emery getting the start in net tonight. Starters in bold/italics.