Final Score: Ducks 4, Preds 2
The first five minutes of the game were entirely forgettable. Nashville had three shots, the Ducks had zero, but really the game didn't get started in earnest until Mike Santorelli gave the Ducks a power play by clearing the puck over the glass.
The power play was outstanding for the Ducks, but just a little bit better for Pekka Rinne. Anaheim ended up putting six shots on goal and four or five of them were considered scoring chances, plus Rickard Rakell missed the net from point blank range. Probably the best opportunity came right away when Cam Fowler pinched in to shoot a beautiful cross slot pass from Perry and Matt Beleskey got a whack at the rebound, but neither could solve Rinne.
Just before the midway point of the game, Clayton Stoner took the first Ducks penalty of the game for interference. The penalty kill was good for the Ducks also. Nashville got set up a couple of times, but couldn't manage much and ended up with only one shot on goal.
The Ducks went on another power play when the line of Patrick Maroon, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg put in a tough shift, just holding it along the wall but drew a high sticking penalty against Mike Fisher. The second PP opportunity was almost as good as the first. The best chance was a scramble in front that found Perry on his knees with a wide open goal and the puck lying flat. Unfortunately Perry's stick was caught up in a tangle of humanity and all he could do was get a glove on it. That wasn't all, the Ducks managed to get another three or four scoring chances out of the two minute minor, but Rinne was again there for all of them.
The last 5 min were Nashville's best of the game, to that point, with an extended shift or two in the zone partially aided by Rakell braking his stick. Defenseman, Matias Ekholm had the Preds' best chance of the game in the last few minutes of the period on a wraparound attempt that went off the shaft of John Gibson's stick.
The bottom line on that period, is that it was largely poor from the Ducks, but that got covered up by two fantastic power plays. Eight of their ten shots came with the extra man.
Only a minute into the second, Fisher and Ryan Kesler dropped the gloves for a spirited, if inexperienced bout. Immediately after those two sat down, the Preds opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush. The Ducks were headed up ice, but Perry's cross ice pass to Fowler was way behind him, causing a neutral zone turnover. Ryan Getzlaf tried to poke it away from Taylor Beck, but fell down leaving Despres as the only Duck defending. Beck played give and go with Gabriel Bourque. Despres laid down to block the pass, but Bourque made a beautiful saucer pass over him, back to Beck for the one timer. 1-0 Preds.
Another bad pass on the rush and a defensive zone turnover later, the Ducks were called for a too many men on the ice penalty, to be served by Jiri Sekac. Terrible rebound control from Gibson gave Nashville their best chance on the PP. Gibson blockered a Shea Weber shot right into the slot for Beck, and he rang it off the crossbar.
Right after the kill, Beleskey was called for a strange kneeing penalty along the boards. There was contact between the knees of Beleskey and Craig Smith, but it certainly didn't seem to be Beleskey's intent and he made contact to the upper body as well. In any case, it cost the Ducks. Roman Josi found some space, stepped up to the top of the circle and released a shot that may have been going wide, but it re-directed off of the stick of Francois Beauchemin and in. 2-0 Preds.
The Ducks were having all kinds of trouble getting out of the zone for the first half of the period, and didn't even register a shot until nearly 13 and a half minutes had elapsed in the second period. And going back to the first period, it was nearly 18 minutes between Anaheim shots on goal. When they did it was a good chance though, Getzlaf just flung one from a sharp angle and Sifverberg picked up the rebound from behind the net and jammed it right back in front, but Rinne made an athletic kick save on the line to keep the Ducks off the score sheet.
That seemed to give the Ducks a little bit of life, Rinne got away with one, coming out to play a puck behind the net and turning it over to Andrew Cogliano. Cogs whipped it back in front, but nobody was there to deposit it into the empty net.
Anaheim had a couple of decent shifts for the last five minutes of the period, including the reunion of the Beleskey, Kesler, Kyle Pamieri line. But it was just another awful second period from the Ducks, getting outshot 15-3 in the middle 20.
The Ducks were better in the first two minutes of the third period than in the entire 20 minutes of the second, throwing pucks to the net through traffic plus a beautiful open ice hit by Maroon on Colin Wilson. And it paid off with a goal. Maroon won a puck behind the goal to Perry, he tried to bring it around to the front on his backhand but it came out to Getzlaf who snapped it into the back of the net. 2-1 Preds.
They almost tied it up on the very next shift. Rinne had trouble with a Silfverberg shot, while Cogs and a defender were cruising by the front, and the rebound came to Despres with an empty net to shoot at, but it bounced over his stick.
After about six and a half minutes of heavy bombardment from the Ducks, Peter Laviolette called Nashville's timeout to regroup his team. It didn't work all that well. The Ducks stayed all over Nashville with speed, traffic, getting to rebounds, puck recoveries, just really good hockey. Where was this for the entire second period?
As a result, the Preds were icing the puck a lot. Eventually one of those worked out, as the Ducks won the faceoff and kept Nashville pinned in. Palmieri dragged the puck off the end boards to the bottom of the circle and wristed it right through Rinne. 2-2 tie, and everything going Anaheim's way.
35 seconds later Nashville turned the puck over on a breakout that gave the Ducks a mini 3-on-2 from the blueline Nate Thompson carried it in, dropped it for Silf and cut to the middle of the ice. Silf got the puck right back to him and he zipped it high over the blocker. 3-2 Ducks.
On the very next shift the Preds went right at Gibson, Josi jumped up into the play getting a cross ice pass to Santorelli and he fed Wilson in the slot, but the shot was off the mark. Due to all of the icing and goals, they were a little backed up on TV timeouts so with just under nine minutes remaining we saw our first commercial, and the second followed only about two minutes later to settle things down, much to the benefit of the Predators.
But Mike Ribeiro went off for cross checking Despres in the offensive zone. Pretty dumb penalty to take considering how the Ducks PP was clicking in the first and how they'd been going through the first half of the period, not to mention that Nashville was trailing with only seven minutes remaining in regulation. And it proved to be costly, with TONS of traffic in front, Fowler's wrist shot from the point had eyes. It somehow filtered through Perry, Getzlaf and two defenders to beat Rinne. 4-2 Ducks.
Trailing by two, Laviolette was very aggressive in pulling Rinne for the extra attacker with about 2:45 remaining in regulation. Silfverberg missed the net from his own blueline for an icing, then the next time they got it out of the zone he missed from the right side of center, but lost his balance and took a hit as he shot and lipmped off the ice. He didn't have another shift, but stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game.
On the next shift, Beleskey had to pull up once he tracked down a puck in the Nashville zone and the Ducks set up almost as a power play, working the puck along the perimeter. Weber was in net for the Preds and ended up having to make a pretty nice stick save with one minute left, though it will go down as a blocked shot. Getzlaf backheeled one to Maroon in the neutral zone, but he couldn't get a hold of it, but it didn't matter because the Ducks had just completed their league leading 11th win of the season when trailing after two.
The Good: Pretty obvious. The power play was outstanding and the third period was completely and utterly dominated by the Ducks in every possible way.
The Bad: Aside from the power play, the Ducks had nothing going in the first period.
The Ugly: The second period, again. WTF?! In this case it didn't really come out of nowhere. As soon as they stopped getting power plays the Ducks' inability to generate anything at even strength was revealed. It's just shocking in contrast with how dominant they were as soon as they came out for the third period.
3rd MVD: Kyle Palmieri - OK, so he actually wasn't very good tonight, and hasn't been for a few weeks now at least. BUT his goal was brilliant and let's hope that gets him back on the right track.
2nd MVD: Corey Perry - Assisted on the Gezlaf goal, but for me he was the one that made the power play look as good as it did. He was getting to the front of the net and that drew a lot of attention from the Nashville killers, opening up other things for his teammates. Also while he was causing havoc and getting worked over he had some slick passes as well to get the puck into more open areas.
1st MVD: Ryan Getzlaf - On top of the goal that started the comeback, and despite his Stevie G impression on the first Nashville goal (what's up Chelsea fans) he was great on the PP and shooting more than usual. Actually shooting more than anyone else on the Ducks with five on goal. If only he was able to possess the puck at all in the second period, they may not have needed another crazy comeback.
Next Game: Wednesday, home to the Los Angeles Kings 7pm PT