NOT SO FASTH! Ducks Beat Preds 3-2 in Shootout

Victor Decolongon

It started out ugly, but the Ducks got better and better as the game progressed and came up big in the shootout.

Final Score: Ducks 3, Nashville 2 (Shootout)

First Period Recap: It didn't take long for the Predators to be the first team on the board. Only 1:52 into the first period, Brandon Yip took Bryan Allen's mishandled puck through the neutral zone for a quick shot on Viktor Fasth. Yip jumped on his own rebound for a 1-0 Predators lead. Quickly thereafter, the top line had some terrific chances, but they were stymied by Pekka Rinne. Anaheim had two power plays, but were disheveled during both, and more so during Toni Lydman's penalty near the end of the first. Even strength play was once again good, as Anaheim out-chanced Nashville, but were weak on special teams.

Second Period Recap: The Ducks came out of the gate better in the second, playing more aggressively in the Predators' zone. Unable to solve Rinne, Coach Boudreau split up the Ducks' red-hot third line, promoting Saku Koivu to his familiar role centering Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan. Daniel Winnik was also juggled around, finally ending up on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. With the second period near it's end, Koivu made a great hustle play along the boards, with the puck finally finding Cam Fowler. Fowler's point-shot ended up tipping off of Bobby Ryan's stick for the 1-1 tie as the game headed into the third period.

Third Period Recap: The Ducks looked too eager in the early third. They found themselves trapped in their own zone and Nashville applying pressure. Fasth made two tremendous saves on the play, keeping the Ducks in the game. Halfway through the period, the Ducks earned their third power play, and Boudreau resorted to playing Getzlaf on the point, substituting Bobby Ryan in at left wing, similar to what we saw in the season opener against Vancouver. On the heels of the Ducks' power play expiring, Nashville set up in the Anaheim zone and David Legwand buried a juicy rebound from Kevin Klein's point shot for the 2-1 lead.

A little over a minute later, the Ducks responded. Koivu made a very good two-line pass to Perry, who put it on his backhand for a cross-ice pass that just found Winnik's blade to tie the game 2-2. In the closing minutes, Getzlaf closed his hand on the puck, leading to the Predators' third power play. The Ducks penalty kill looked confident, and the game eventually headed to overtime.

Overtime Recap: The overtime period had a lot of rushes, with Fowler pinching a lot (very good), and Roman Josi doing the same for the Predators. It solved nothing, and we had a shootout. Luckily for the Ducks, the Predators first shooter, Martin Erat, ringed one off the crossbar. Getzlaf was the Ducks first shooter, and tried to push the puck to his forehand, but was stopped by Rinne. Fasth got the left pad down on Mike Fisher's shot, with Perry coming up as the second Ducks shooter. In vintage Perry fashion, he slipped it through Rinne's five-hole. Fasth fought off Legwand's shot with his glove to close out the Ducks win!

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The Good: We finally beat the Predators, a team that can shut you down offensively, and convert so easily on their defensive chances is always a tough team to beat. Rinne, who in my opinion is the best goaltender in the NHL is quite capable of stealing games. The Ducks had lost their last six meetings with Nashville, and finally they were able to get the monkey off their back. Honorable mention: even strength play, top-six line combinations.

The Bad: Special teams. They still look dysfunctional, but they're playing more confidently with each passing game. That's the only way to work out these types of kinks.

The Ugly: Sloppy play. The Ducks were good at even-strength, but against better offensive teams, they can't be so untidy with the puck. They have to tighten things up in all three zones. Honorable mention: lighting the lamp after a win. First the Skrillex and Korn intro, and now this?

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Most Valuable Duck:
1st MVD - Viktor Fasth. Save for a few moments - particularly the Legwand goal - Fasth looked very good in his NHL debut. He did enough to keep the Ducks in the game, and then sealed it off in overtime and the skills competition. Let's hope this can create some healthy competition between with Hiller.

2nd MVD - Saku Koivu. The replacement of Bonino on the second line worked wonders. The extra effort Koivu brings put the line over the edge in terms of offense. There's a sense of cohesion between Koivu and Selanne, as well as Ryan. He earned his fifth assist of the season on the Winnik goal, and his hustle led directly to the Ryan goal.

3rd MVD - Corey Perry. Heads up play for the assist on the Winnik goal, and the shootout winner. After a rough game last night, this was an admirable bounce back.

Next Game: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 7:30 PST at San Jose

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