Ducks End Road Trip with 3-2 Victory in Nashville

"I would have scored more but your jersey's so loud even the puck doesn't want to go anywhere near it." - Patrick Maroon, chirping like a boss. - Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, but the Ducks found just enough energy to beat Pekka Rinne twice in regulation and twice in the shootout to end the road trip with a 3-2 victory.

Final Score: Ducks 3, Predators 2 (SO)

First Period Recap: It was opposite day in Nashville. The Preds, normally the ones to play passive, trapping hockey came out flying all over the Ducks and had the majority of the offensive zone time. Meanwhile the Ducks tried to play Nashville's patient trap game which apparently they forgot that they can't do.

You might remember from my pregame piece that Nashville's offense is the worst in the NHL... yeah, it really didn't look like it. The Ducks were out shot 5-1 at the seven-minute mark of the opening frame en route to a 14-6 deficit at the end of the frame.

Sheldon Souray got unlucky not once, but twice as his stick just barely caught the head of two Preds players, resulting in consecutive Predator power plays. While Nashville didn't score on either of them, the extended pressure and control from the first man-advantage led to the opening goal. David Legwand found himself untouched on top of the goal crease between two Ducks defensemen where he buried a juicy rebound past Fasth.

Keeping with this roadtrip's theme of coming from behind, the Ducks finally broke through when Matt Beleskey found a small patch of open ice and buried his third goal of the season on a pass from Corey Perry. Interesting to think those two are now racing each other to become the tenth Ducks player to get to four goals on the year.

The goal snapped Pekka Rinne's shutout streak just short of 160 minutes.

It wasn't pretty but the Ducks escaped the first period tied 1-1.

Second Period Recap: For the first time on the road trip, the Ducks really started to show some fatigue. This is understandable when you consider they played less than 24 hours before and have been on the road for nearly two weeks. However the Predators dictated the pace of the game, and by that I mean slow, sluggish, and suitable for a solid nap. But it paid them dividends.

The Predators patience almost entirely negated a lengthy 5-on-3 Ducks power play, limiting them to one shot. The following shift saw Nashville hit the ice flying and they made the Ducks pay for their power play ineptitude. Shea Weber, bounced a wrist shot in off Luca Sbisa's arm for his first goal of the year.

The Ducks once again tied the game even though they hardly deserved it. Patrick Maroon went hard to the front of the net and tipped a Kyle Palmieri pass through Rinne for the first goal of his NHL career. Between periods, Maroon endeared himself a little more to Ducks fans by revealing his family was in the stands, and he scored that goal for his four-year-old son.

The period ended with Koivu taking a silly offensive zone penalty for hooking Weber at the 20 minute mark.

The shots were balanced at nine each that period, but that brought the totals through 40 minutes to 23-15. Nashville averaged just 21 shots PER GAME coming into the night.

Third Period Recap: The Ducks killed the early penalty and righted the ship rather impressively, but the third period was kind of an anomaly. It wasn't necessarily bad, just flat out uneventful. Aside from Weber hitting the post in the early going, the game turned into a chess match with both sides in full-fledged defense mode.

The Ducks actually got their first extended stretch of offensive zone presence against the Preds, however nothing significant came of it. For the first approximately 17 minutes, the period was pretty much incidentless.

I think Eric Stephens said it best:

The last three minutes saw the game ramp up again as a few big chances went both directions. Bryan Allen hit the post late, a mere inch away from stealing a win in regulation. However, Nashville turned it right back around with some chances of their own.

Viktor Fasth was stellar in the third, saving two point-blank slapshots from Predator forwards right in the slot. Why they were taking slappers in the slot I'm not really sure, but Fasth did exactly what coach Boudreau ask of his goalies: gave the Ducks a chance to win.

The period wouldn't be complete without the Ducks taking a penalty that would carry over, as they were given a questionable too-many-men minor with 28 seconds left in regulation. Oh who am I kidding, that call was terrible. [Ed. Note: It evened out though, because Souray got away with clearing the puck over the glass about a minute and a half earlier. -CK]

Despite the seemingly level nature of the period, the Predators once again out shot Anaheim 9-5, bringing the game total to 32-20 in favor of the hosts.

Overtime: The Ducks PK stole the show early in the extra session, killing off the Predators extended 4-on-3 power play while limiting the number of quality chances.

The rest of overtime, like the third, was rather even. However, it was far from boring. Mike Fisher hit the crossbar with a deflected shot. Corey Perry was absolutely robbed by a killer save from Rinne, and despite it looking like there was no way the game would make it out of the OT period... it did. Two extra shots each brought the final game total to 34-22 Predators.

Shootout:

Bonino: SCORE! (How about this kid, eh?)

David Legwand: save!

Cogliano: save. (Talk about stick betrayal...)

Craig Smith: SCORE.

Perry: SCORE!

Gabriel Borque: WIDE!

**********

The Good: The Ducks got Rinne to give up not just one goal, but two! However, the best thing out of tonight was that the team managed to steal two points against one of their most problematic opponents in a very difficult building, for the second night in a row. There was obviously very little gas left in their figurative tank so the ability to gut this one out and still claim two points is huge.

Likewise, unless your name is Andrew Cogliano, the hockey gods were on our side tonight. Souray escaped what should have been a delay of game penalty late in regulation. The Preds caught a few fortunate posts

The team also continues to look unbelievable in shootouts. Nick Bonino is now 3-for-3 on his career and every single one has been a different, brilliant move.

The Ducks also set a record for best road trip of five or more games tonight, finishing this six-game slog with a record of 5-1-0.

The Bad: The first period was utter crap. Despite knowing they wanted to come out strong and playing aggressive against Nashville, the Preds ran all over the Ducks and out shot them 14-6. Virtually the entire frame was played in the Anaheim end, and the game in no way deserved to be tied after the first 20 minutes.

The D-pair of Toni Lydman and Sbisa has been far and away the weakest combo in the lineup lately. There is no excuse for letting David Legwand stand on top of the goal crease untouched and he made them pay by burying a goal. Bruce Boudreau said it best at the start of the second period when he quipped "They're having a picnic out in front of our net."

The Ugly: The power play is still horrible. The 5-on-3 opportunity in second period looked like total garbage and only managed one shot on goal. Likewise, the Predators took mere seconds to turn the momentum they built up from the big kill into a goal to give them the lead again.

**********

Most Valuable Ducks:

3rd MVDs: The pairing of Ben Lovejoy and Allen was stellar. The crew in Carolina was saying Allen plays best when he's got a partner he can really gel with, and we might have picked that up in the Reverend Ben. Both of them made some huge plays defensively to shut down chances tonight.

2nd MVD: Matt Beleskey finally looks like he belongs on the top line. Last time coach Boudreau had him there it looked like he was holding Perry and Getzy back. That's not the case anymore. He's got two goals in the last two games, is finding the soft areas on the ice and sneaking into them well, and is doing a great job as the heavy forechecker on that offensive line.

1st MVD: Viktor Fasth was the star of the night for the Ducks, no question. Between his point-blank saves on slappers from the slot, holding his post to prevent a wrap-around goal, and his brilliant patience in the shootout, Fasth won this game for his tired teammates. Likewise, Fasth is now 8-0-0, shattering the franchise record for best start to a career by a goalie.

Next Game: Monday, February 18, 7:00pm vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

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