ANAHEIM – Even a batch of home cooking couldn’t manage to cure the Ducks’ lingering woes.
Anaheim, starting a lengthy homestand after a rough seven-game road trip, lost its sixth straight, a 4-2 defeat to last year’s playoff foe and budding rival Nashville.
"It’s hard. We’re letting each other down out there," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "These little mistakes that we are making, it’s costing us. The margin for error is so small in this game."
The Predators, who eliminated the Ducks in six games in the first round of last postseason, earned a second straight triumph over the Ducks in this campaign, having also beaten them 3-0 in Nashville on October 29. In that game and in last year’s series, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was a standout, and he was at it again with 31 saves tonight.
Many of those stops came during the Ducks’ feverish attempts to catch Nashville in the third, after the Preds gave themselves breathing room on a Craig Smith goal just 1:36 into the period. Colin Wilson set up the goal by losing Saku Koivu in the corner, before feeding Smith in front for his second of the game.
Anaheim was never able to get back in the game, coming up empty on a couple of power plays in the final 10 minutes, as Rinne stopped all 11 shots in the period.
The Ducks never got even after suffering a rough start in which two ugly Predators goals put Anaheim into a 2-0 hole. The first came just 1:20 into the game, as Smith threw a seemingly innocuous shot on net from below the extended goal line, and the puck deflected off Jonas Hiller’s skate blade and over the stripe.
"The first shift went okay and then I don’t know what happened," Getzlaf said. "They got a lucky bounce there. Those are goals that don’t usually go in."
Three-and-a-half minutes later the Preds struck again, as a Wilson centering pass hit off the outstretched stick of Koivu and got past a sprawling Hiller.
"We definitely dug ourselves a hole," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "They had two shots on net and it was 2-0. That is a mountain you have to climb."
The Ducks gratefully cut the lead in half with less than a minute to go in the first, as a Cam Fowler shot from the point sailed past a Devante Smith-Pelly screen and flew over Rinne’s right shoulder. Later, official scorers ruled that the puck got a piece of Smith-Pelly, giving him his first career goal in his 13th NHL game.
Anaheim suffered a bad break almost 13 minutes into the middle session when Martin Erat hopped up on a shorthanded breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot after Lubomir Visnovsky was batting him with his stick from behind. Erat, who had been stopped on the breakaway by Hiller, beat him on the penalty shot top corner.
The Ducks again clawed back when a Bobby Ryan shot kicked out to Corey Perry, who chipped it under Rinne, and Francois Beauchemin finished the job by jamming it over the stripe. But that was the last time the Ducks would find the net, as they dropped their ninth game in the last 10.
"It’s really tough," Fowler said. "There is not much to be said. We’re in a funk right now. It’s up to us to battle and try to get out of it."
The Ducks had owned a 18-3-2 lifetime record against the Predators at home in the regular season, which of course doesn’t include a devastating Game 5 loss here that turned the tables on that series.
"We were, for parts of the game, able to get back into it with our work ethic, grit and determination," Carlyle said. "It just seemed that we couldn’t put one across the goal line at the opportune time. We had our fair number of chances and hit our fair number of posts. Our will right now has not been demonstrated for 60 minutes and we have to find a way to do that."
They’ll look to bounce back from this setback during a Friday night date with the defending Western Conference champion Canucks at Honda Center on Friday night.
"We battled back in the game," Carlyle said. "This is about winning and we have to find a way to get a win. This group collectively has to look at themselves. We are going to ask for more. We worked hard in spurts, were rewarded in spurts, but we didn’t work hard enough in my mind for the full 60 minutes."
Said Fowler, "We have to look at some of the things that we did well tonight. We put a better effort out there tonight. They just capitalized on some of our mistakes. We did a lot of things that we wanted to do. We just can’t find a way to get this W yet."
20:00 - Ducks lose six straight.
19:52 - Tootoo fires just wide of the open net, but it won't matter.
19:10 - Perry has it in deep but can't get a shot off before he's knocked off the puck.
18:39 - Ducks come out of the timeout with their net empty.
17:40 - A Gordon bid from the wing is kicked away. He's looking for the first one too.
17:06 - Ouch.
15:06 - An even more critical PP for Anaheim.
15:06 - NSH Penalty - Ryan Suter, 2 min. holding. Beleskey one-timer completely fools Rinne, but he somehow still makes the stop just by being there. He can't find the puck, but Ducks can't capitalize. In the mayhem, Suter picks up the penalty.
14:30 - Ducks espace as the Preds are all over the net. A goal there would have ended this thing.
13:19 - Ducks don't overly threaten on the PP, aside from a late Ryan shot off the leg pad.
11:40 - Perry one-timer off Getzlaf feed is stopped by Rinne. He's been tough yet again.
11:19 - Critical power play for Anaheim.
11:19 - NSH Penalty - Jerred Smithson, 2 min. interference. After the second of two straight Fowler shots, Getzlaf is taken down away from the puck by Smithson. Getzlaf didn't like it too much.
8:50 - Fowler gets some room, but fires it into Rinne. Timeout with 11:10 left and the Ducks need to get on their horses.
6:25 - Hiller makes a big stop on a wide open Fisher backhand.
5:45 - Getzlaf hits the post. Ducks could have used that one.
5:30 - Perry goes flying over Rinne yet again trying to stuff in a rebound. May have even stepped on his head.
4:50 - Beleskey has a scoring chance, but Rinne cuts off the angle and makes the stop, with Perry toppling over him. Beleskey still looking for his first of the year.
1:36 - NASHVILLE GOAL - CRAIG SMITH - Wilson loses Koivu in the corner and feeds in front to Smith for the one-timer. Smith beat Lydman to the front of the net. It's 4-2 as the Ducks get hurt early in the first and the third.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks give up a penalty shot to Erat, but get one back thanks to Beauchemin. It's 3-2 going into a very important third.
18:50 - Hiller makes a point blank save on Bouillon, then another sprawling one on Bouillon's rebound try.
16:55 - Now Ryan sends Smith flying while playing the puck at the other end.
16:20 - Ryan delivers a nice shot on Geoffrion, sending him into the wall.
14:12 - ANAHEIM GOAL - FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN - Perry is able to force a bouncing puck into the crease off a Ryan shot, and it's trapped under Rinne again. But this time Beauchemin chops at it and gets it behind Rinne and over the stripe. Ducks make it 3-2.
13:25 - Selanne fakes a pass and fires into Rinne, just before the Preds clear it for the last time on this PP.
13:04 - Ducks still on the power play as a Sbisa turnover turns into another Erat breakaway. With Sbisa dogging him from behind he fires this one into Hiller. Thank goodness.
12:48 - NASHVILLE GOAL (PENALTY SHOT) - MARTIN ERAT - Erat skates in and wrists it into the top corner of the net. Hiller didn't have a chance. Questionable call turns into a Nashville goal and it's 3-1.
12:48 - Hiller makes a nice stop on Erat on the breakaway, but a penalty shot is awarded as Visnovsky was slapping at him with the stick from behind. Not a very good call.
12:40 - Selanne tries a pass to a pinching Fowler, but just out of his reach.
11:33 - NSH Penalty - Craig Smith, 2 min. hooking. Smith hooks Cogliano, who was looking at an open net.
10:21 - Beauchemin takes a deliberate shot off the back wall that caroms past the left post and gets trapped under Rinne. Perry swings away to no avail.
9:20 - Ryan has seemingly been on the ice for the last four minutes. You can audibly hear him finally get called to the bench by Carlyle.
7:40 - Ryan is a forechecking madman right now.
6:39 - Big kill for the Ducks and the crowd knows it.
4:39 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. hooking. Ryan slings a shot from the left circle as the power play is ending that beats Rinne but clangs off the near post. A second later, he commits the hook trying to get the puck back.
2:58 - Nice Selanne redirect is stopped by Rinne, who makes a sprawling save on Selanne's follow-up backhand.
2:35 - NSH Penalty - Jordin Tootoo, 2 min. high sticking. Perry takes a stick to the mouth from Tootoo after picking up a rolling puck in the slot and looking to make room to shoot.
1:24 - Selanne speeds down right wing with lots of room, fakes a shot and puts it into Rinne.
0:59 - Erat takes a puck to the face that deflected off Fisher, who was walking through the gate to the bench. No too many men call somehow. Erat heads to the room.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Fowler's late one salvages the opening period and it's 2-1 going into the break.
19:21 - ANAHEIM GOAL - DEVANTE SMITH-PELLY (SCORING CHANGE FROM EARLIER) - Holland pries the puck loose near the wall and gets it to McMillan, who feeds Fowler for the point shot that sails past a screening Smith-Pelly and flies past Rinne's right shoulder. Later, off-ice officials rule it deflected off Smith-Pelly, giving him an awkward first career goal. It's an absolutely huge one, as it comes in the final minute of a rough first period to make it 2-1.
18:10 - Hiller makes a good stop on a rush shot by Kevin Klein, who was great in Soapdish.
17:10 - Getzlaf rips a slap shot that handcuffs Rinne and gets behind him into the paint, but it's knocked away before the Ducks can pounce.
16:10 - Beleskey slams Tootoo into the Ducks bench. You know Beleskey enjoyed that a bit.
15:30 - Fowler bails himself out after whiffing on the puck at the blueline, chasing down Erat and knocking him down on the way to the net.
14:36 - Ducks get some power play time.
14:20 - Ducks firing on net as two Sbisa tries get knocked away.
13:13 - NSH Penalty - Martin Erat, 2 min. high sticking. This one is a legit high stick, on Gordon in the Anaheim zone.
12:36 - ANA Penalty - Brandon McMillan, 2 min. roughing. Tootoo again draws the ire of the Ducks, who have complained of some embellishment in the past. He looks as though he took a stick in the eye as Beleskey and Sbisa both give him a shove.
Ducks fans get into watching some dancing fans on the HondaVision. They could use anything right now. Rough start.
9:52 - Weber flings a shot from the left wing that Hiller stops in the chest area.
6:33 - Ducks nearly get an ugly one of their own as Gordon throws the puck on net from a bad angle and it's under Rinne, who can't find it for several seconds before finally covering it.
4:54 - NASHVILLE GOAL - COLIN WILSON (SCORING CHANGE FROM EARLIER) - Wilson tries a centering pass to Hornqvist and the puck is deflected by Koivu and past the outstretched leg of an out-of-position Hiller. It's 2-0 on two ugly goals.
3:10 - Ryan whips a shot on net shorthanded into Rinne's glove.
1:52 - ANA Penalty - Andrew Gordon, 2 min. boarding. While chasing the puck behind the Nashville net, Hillen loses an edge with Gordon on him, and Gordon gets the boarding call. Crowd doesn't like the replay they see.
1:20 - NASHVILLE GOAL - CRAIG SMITH - Smith throws a seemingly innocuous shot at the left post from under the extended goal line and it hits Jonas Hiller's skate blade and gets behind him. Rough way for the Ducks to start and it's 1-0 Nashville.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center for the first time in 17 days.
7:07 p.m. - Dawn Wright belts the anthem while munchkins from the Orange County Mite A team stand next to the Ducks starts.
Wrist shot -
1 - 0 NSH
Backhand shot -