By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – Try as they might, the Ducks just can’t seem to figure out the Nashville Predators.
Nashville won its sixth straight over Anaheim, dating back to last year’s first-round playoff series, erasing an early Ducks lead en route to a 3-1 victory at Honda Center.
A shorthanded goal in the second period by Devante Smith-Pelly was all Anaheim could manage, as the Preds scored two in the third to take the lead and iced it on a late empty-net goal.
"They are really good and never stop pushing," Smith-Pelly said of the Preds. "They are great in their own zone and capitalize on your mistakes. I guess that is what they did tonight."
The Ducks sent Jonas Hiller (24 saves) to the bench for an extra attacker on a couple of occasions in the final minute and a half, but their attempt to tie the game was impeded by a Bobby Ryan hooking call with 46 seconds left.
Hiller again skated off when the Ducks got it in the Nashville end, but they lost the puck, and Legwand finished things off with the empty-netter from the right wing with 16.5 seconds remaining. The Ducks were incensed that interference was not called on Patric Hornqvist, who picked Smith-Pelly in the open ice to free up Legwand.
"The effort was good," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "In the first two periods we were a pretty dominating team. It wasn’t for lack of opportunities, chances or effort. I think we had a tremendous effort tonight. We came up short."
The Ducks were able to thwart the NHL’s second-ranked power play seven and a half minutes into the game, turning the tables with a shorthanded goal by Smith-Pelly. On the rush, Ryan Getzlaf sent a pass across the slot to Smith-Pelly, who shuttled it past a drawn-out Anders Lindback.
"He is one of the best playmakers in the league," Smith-Pelly said of Getzlaf. "I’m sure everyone on our bench he was going to slide it over. I just waited for it."
That was all Lindback gave up on the night, as he had 30 saves in place of All-Star netminder Pekka Rinne, who lost to LA last night.
Nashville caught and passed the Ducks in the third, getting goals from Hornqvist and Mike Fisher to take a 2-1 lead halfway through the period. Hornqvist took advantage of a sluggish Anaheim start to the stanza and a bad change, going top shelf off a Legwand feed on the rush at 1:19. It was the fifth goal in the last eight games vs. Anaheim for Hornqvist.
A little more than 10 minutes in, following a save at the other end by Lindback, Ryan Suter’s hard shot hit off Hiller and dropped into the slot, where Fisher reached between Sheldon Brookbank’s legs to poke it over the stripe.
"They just continue to be there, in your way and chip away at things," Ryan said. "They are almost sneaky because it doesn’t feel they’re getting chances and all the sudden it’s a quick one like the first one was. Before you know it, they are up 2-1. They are a team that sticks around and works until the end of the buzzer."
Nashville swept the four-game season series over the Ducks for the first time in team history. The Ducks were 18-4-2 against the Preds at home coming into this game.
"We know our record against them going back to the playoffs," Ryan said of Nashville. "We know they are a good team and have beaten us handily a few times. Seeing them four times a year, you have to wash it away at some point and get past it."
20:00 - END OF GAME. It's 3-1 Nashville.
19:43 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 10 min. misconduct. Perry not happy with the officials.
19:43 - NASHVILLE GOAL (EMPTY NET AND POWER PLAY) - DAVID LEGWAND - Ducks lose the puck in the Nashville end and they go the other way, with Legwand running the puck down on the right wing and dumping it into the empty net. Hornqvist with a pick on Smith-Pelly to free up Legwand, but no call. Ducks are furious. It's 3-1.
19:25 - Hiller to the bench as the Ducks clear it down.
19:14 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. hooking. Ryan gets called trying to recover after Fowler loses the puck at the point. Hiller back in there.
18:25 - Ducks take timeout with 1:35 left. Hiller on the bench with the draw in the Nashville end.
17:10 - Beauchemin rips a slap shot from the left wing that goes just wide of the far post. Ducks almost looking better shorthanded tonight then even strength.
16:13 - Perry with a shorthanded try from the wing that Lindback happens to find in his glove.
15:48 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. holding. After a Selanne giveaway, Visnovsky grabs onto Spaling to stop him from heading on a breakaway.
15:13 - Guenin with a nice belly slide to thwart a Preds odd-man rush.
14:21 - Palmieri is robbed on a one-timer by Lindback on the doorstep. Doesn't matter what goalie is in that uniform, apparently.
13:50 - Selanne to Cogliano, but Lindback is there.
10:27 - NASHVILLE GOAL - MIKE FISHER - After the stop by Lindback, the Preds go the other way, with Suter's shot getting stopped by Hiller, but Fisher reaches between Brookbanks legs to poke it in from the crease. All of a sudden, it's 2-1 Nashville.
10:20 - Perry just misses a tip try on the rush. off a Cogliano pass.
8:00 - Hiller puts out a bouncing puck in the crease like an old cigarette.
7:49 - Hiller denies Bouillon on a wraparound try and we get the TV timeout.
4:50 - Selanne with a steal, and he thinks about a breakaway until Weber puts a stop to that.
2:45 - Blake still on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry, where he's been all night.
1:19 - NASHVILLE GOAL - PATRIC HORNQVIST - The Preds pick up a loose puck at the blue line and from the left wing, Legwand hits a streaking Hornqvist, who goes top shelf. Ducks came out sluggish and paid for it. It's 1-1.
Good lord, Hal Gill is a very large man.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Nothing doing for either team in the second, the Ducks holding a 22-16 shot advantage.
18:04 - Ducks kill again.
17:55 - Beauchemin with a big, crowd-pleasing hit on Hornqvist.
16:04 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. interference. Ryan goes back to back with Bouillon at the blue line and Bouillon takes a spill. Crowd not liking that call at all.
13:00 - Hiller survives again as the Preds whack away at a loose puck.
The little dude from Chelsea Lately is shown on the screen, but not a huge reaction from the fans.
It's CHOC Night, so all the dasher boards have been changed out to CHOC Children's. Kind of cool.
9:25 - Bonino gives Palmieri a great stretch pass for a breakaway, but he loses the puck of the blade on the backhand. Too bad.
7:40 - Blake goes in hard to the net from the corner, and Lindback says no.
6:56 - Hiller with a stop on Holmqvist, then hangs tough as the Predators poke and prod.
3:26 - Perry tries to force it in, creating a rebound in front and Blake is absolutely robbed of a sure goal by Lindback's glove. Blake can't believe it. He's not the only one.
2:34 - Power play ends with Visnovsky slapping a shot that Lindback stops easily.
1:46 - Ryan weaves into the slot, but Lindback stops the backhand.
0:33 - NSH Penalty - Martin Erat, 2 min. goaltender interference. On the rush, Sbisa gives a little shove to Erat and he goes spilling hard into Hiller. Hiller is a little slow to get up, but he's okay.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get a shory from Smith-Pelly to go up in front.
17:50 - Pelley's workmanlike backhand on net creates a rebound the Ducks just miss poking in.
You Give Love a Bad Name during the break in the action. Still holds up after all these years.
Timeout video (to the tune of "Night Fever") is highlighted by an elderly lady doing The Sprinkler. Love it.
15:30 - Bonino with a wraparound try on an open net, but denied by Kevin Klein, who hasn't been this good since A Fish Called Wanda.
12:51 - Ducks get bailed out with the puck bouncing around in the blue paint when the official calls Nashville for playing the puck with a high stick.
11:40 - Ryan tries a little dipsy-doodle, but the Preds won't allow it. I'm sure they're not thrilled they have to watch themselves on that highlight-reel goal from last year's playoffs over and over again.
10:45 - Hiller makes his first save of fthe game after Hornqvist gets in alone after getting behind Sbisa.
10:00 - Getzlaf with a rocket of a one-timer off a Perry feed that Lindback just does kick away.
8:10 - Ducks give up no shots on that power play, which is second-ranked in the NHL.
7:32 - ANAHEIM GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - DEVANTE SMITH-PELLY - The Ducks break out with Getzlaf leading the show down the right wing, he makes a nice cross-ice pass to Smith-Pelly, who shuttles it past a drawn-out Lindback. Fourth shorty of the year and it's 1-0.
7:20 - Weber's one-timer is deflected away.
6:10 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. high sticking. Ryan is pushed off the puck by Bouillon and gets him in the visor.
5:30 - Cogliano is the victim of a great save by Lindback on a shot from the slot.
5:20 - Brookbank with a slapper that's just wide on the far side.
3:40 - Bonino gets in deep and backhands it into Lindback.
1:40 - On the move, Visnovsky unleashes a slap shot from the left wing that rings the post. He hasn't scored since January 21.
1:10 - Getzlaf taken down in the Anaheim zone, but no call.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:06 p.m. - Dawn Wright belts out the anthem while the Ducks starters are joined by kids from CHOC Children's.
Lydman scratched with an upper body injury. Lindback in net with the Preds playing the second of the back-to-back (lost last night in LA).