80 seconds. That is how long it took for the Predators to score their first goal of the game. Sure it's an improvement from the 14 seconds it took them to score on the Ducks the first time the teams met, but it was still just as important.
From that point on, the Ducks found themselves in another hole they had to claw themselves out of. About three and a half minutes later, the Ducks were victimized again by the Preds. Two goals before the clock ticked off five minutes to start the game. It was just another start to a game that the Ducks have been all too familiar with this year. The bright spot of a sluggish first period came with 39 seconds left. From a Cam Fowler shot into traffic, Devante Smith-Pelly scored his first NHL goal (although it was announced as Cam's goal originally) by deflecting a puck off of his knee and into the net. It doesn't matter how it goes in, but as long as it counts, we're happy.
While everyone's favorite belly flopper Jordin Tootoo was kept upright, Martin Erat found himself benefiting the most on a marginal call on Lubomir Visnovsky that resulted in a penalty shot and subsequent goal. The Ducks were once again down by two goals. Less than two minutes later the Predators most wanted criminal, Francois Beauchemin (with the help of another Nashville favorite, Corey Perry), scored an ugly goal that brought the Ducks back within one. Once again, it doesn't matter how it looks when it goes in, as long as it goes in (that's what she said).
Yet it wouldn't be the Ducks game as Nashville scored about a minute and half into the 3rd, putting the deficit back up to two goals. The Ducks would be unable to get any scoring going to close the gap, and would end up losing the game by the score of 4-2. Blame bounces, whiffed shots. posts and a hot goalie in Pekka Rinne all you want, but in reality the Ducks just couldn't get it done.
-- Corey Perry is doing everything he can short of throwing the puck in the net to try to score goals. Tonight he lead the team with 6 shots on goal. My feeling is that Perry feels like he owes it to the team to be the exact same player, if not even better, than he was the previous season. You can sense his frustration. The good thing about Perry is that he doesn't let that deter him from going out and competing just as hard the very next shift.
-- On the broadcast tonight, they said that the Predators had only out shot one team this season. I'll give you one guess as to who that was. The Ducks squeaked by with one more shot on goal than the Preds for a total of 33 in the game. Aside from Perry, others leading the shot parade were Teemu Selanne with 4, and Cam Fowler, Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Andrew Gordon at 3 shots a piece.
-- Cam would have had even more than his 3 shots on goal if the Preds hadn't blocked 5 (!!!) of his other shots. Really, that's 8 shots for Cam tonight. We need him to keep doing this - even if he has to deflect off of DSP every time he scores.
-- Saku Koivu was lights out in the faceoff circle winning 14 and losing 6. That's a 70% clip on the night. Ryan Getzlaf had a better night too winning 13 and losing 8 for 68% successful draws. Sure it helped not having the Preds top face-off man David Legwand in the lineup, but hooray for Getzy!
-- Francois Beauchemin and Getzlaf tied for most hits on the night with 3 each.
-- I thought this was the best night of DSP's NHL career, thus far. He was throwing around the body, flying around the ice, and most importantly, blocking out the sun in front of Pekke Rinne. Randy Carlyle seemed to feel the same by putting Devante on the second power play unit and on the penalty kill.
-- Another thing I heard on the broadcast, with the Predators going 0-3 on the power play tonight, the Ducks penalty kill remains spotless at home.
-- The Ducks had 13 giveaways tonight to the Predators' 6. The leading offenders with 2 giveaways a piece: Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Maxime Macenauer.
-- Jonas Hiller looked OK tonight. There was one save that Lubo ended up making by punching the puck Matrix-style out of the air because Hiller was turned in the wrong direction with his tummy facing the goal. I'm still not ready for the goalie debate because we've still not really seen Dan Ellis all that much. Hiller, like Perry, is his own worst enemy, and is increasingly critical of his own performance. It doesn't help that he keeps getting scored on before he even has time to take his first drink of Gatorade.
-- I'm beginning to realize how much of an outlier last season was for Lubo. He is struggling. For our number one offensive defenseman, he had zero shots tonight. The only time I really remember him in the game was during that marginal penalty shot call.
-- Body language on the bench is something I like to watch. Earlier in the year, Carlyle said that the team is the embodiment of how Getzlaf and Perry are acting at that moment. Tonight the team seemed dejected from the outset - including the twins after that first goal. Their shoulders were slumped. They weren't chatting with each other. It was almost a blank stare as they sat motionless watching the game unfold before them. Leadership isn't just having the right thing to say, it's about carrying yourself with confidence even though you might be scared shitless on the inside.
-- The line that has been the steadiest of late, Selanne, Koivu and Andrew Cogliano, had a very bad night. Their entire line was a -3. Those that have read us for a while know that I am a big time Koivu supporter. Even tonight I can suck it up and say he had a really bad game. Saku, along with Beauch, missed Monday's practice due to the flu. I'm going to say it's the flu's fault that Koivu had a bad game :)
-- After going 0 for 5 tonight, it might time to be concerned about the power play. Daniel pointed out something great in the comments for tonight's game. He said that other teams have watched tape of our power play and made adjustments. The Ducks have not done made adjustments in reaction to other teams reacting to us.