The Anaheim Ducks were looking to rebound from a frustrating 3-1 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and they fell just short of a dramatic comeback, falling 5-3 to the Nashville Predators. They faced a 3-goal deficit on two separate occasions, with the Preds jumping out to a 3-0 lead, and then again at 4-1. However, the incredibly exciting 3rd period wasn’t enough before the Preds iced it with a late empty netter. Here is the period-by-period breakdown of how it all happened.
The game started with the Predators winning the opening faceoff and storming into the offensive zone. Nick Ritchie got his DERP (Daily Egregious Ritchie Penalty) out of the way early, cross-checking Viktor Arvidsson and the Predators went to the power play just 17 seconds into the contest. The penalty looked to be off to a great start, holding Nashville to only one shot on goal during the man advantage.
Anaheim decided that they wanted to give the PK another chance to fail, so they took another penalty just two minutes later, this time in the form of a Josh Manson high stick. The penalty kill was successful yet again, but the positive momentum was short-lived, as Scott Hartnell redirected a puck into the net with his foot (not a kick) and the Predators were on the board. 1-0 Nashville with 13:34 left in the opening frame.
The penalty frenzy continued, this time finally a cross-checking call against Mattias Ekholm, giving the Ducks their first power play opportunity of the night. Anaheim looked exactly like the Ducks normally do on the power play, meaning that there were no dangerous chances and they did not score, for all you newcomers to Anaheim Ducks hockey.
The Predators decided to even things up in the name of fairness and took their second penalty of the game at the 12:51 mark of the first. If you’re wondering how this power play turned out, you probably didn’t read the previous paragraph. Anywho, on we go!
With just 49 seconds remaining in the period, the Ducks decided that it might be a good idea to give Roman Josi a ton of space to set up and pick his shot from the blue line and, shockingly, Anaheim ended up picking that one out of the back of their net. 2-0 Predators.
The period came to a close with the Ducks facing a multi-goal deficit, but leading shots on goal 12-8.
The 2nd period began, and the Ducks added another injury to the list, because why not at this point? This time, it was once again Kevin Bieksa, this time by way of puck-to-mouth symptoms. He got Ryan Getzlaf’d, you could say. Bieksa headed to the locker room, and the Ducks continued on sans one defenseman.
The Predators turned around and were able to increase their lead on a Matt Irwin goal that beat John Gibson because Sami Vatanen thought that high-sticking his own goaltender was a better idea than just letting Gibson make the save. His stick caught Gibson in the neck, sending him tumbling down to the ice as the shot sailed over him into the top of the net. 3-0 Predators. Yikes.
Anaheim finally showed a pulse in this game as a turnover at the blue line turned into a tic-tac-toe passing play from Nick Ritchie to Ondrej Kase to Antoine Vermette, who deposited it into an empty net to get the Ducks on the board when they needed it most. 3-1 Predators.
Corey Perry was then viciously cross-checked by Mattias Ekholm, and as he fell, the puck drilled Corey Perry in the arm/shoulder area. Corey headed to the locker room to join Kevin Bieksa, but only briefly, as he returned to the bench moments later to yell very lovely compliments to the officiating crew.
Kevin Bieksa eventually returned to the bench as well later in the period, but Derek Grant left to head to the locker room after a collision with Ryan Johansen, keeping the injury wheel turning eternally for the Ducks.
Roman Josi was called for a delay of game penalty, giving the Ducks their 3rd power play opportunity of the evening. That power play looked much stronger than the other two prior to it, so naturally, Nick Ritchie decided to end it early by taking his second DERP of the night. 4-on-4 hockey for 47 seconds. The 4-on-4 and following Predators power play were largely uneventful, save for a good rush by Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano that was broken up by Pekka Rinne on the doorstep.
As they say, there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the Ducks getting called for slashing penalties. 4th power play for the Nashville Predators. This time, the penalty kill finally broke as Viktor Arvidsson was left open in the left circle and ripped a one-timer past John Gibson. 4-1 Predators.
Mattias Ekholm finally gets called for his continuous violent cross-checking of Corey Perry, and the Ducks make very quick work of the penalty kill of the Predators. Just a couple seconds into the power play, Hampus Lindholm fires a blast from the blue line past Pekka Rinne to keep the Ducks alive with a heartbeat heading into the 3rd period. 4-2 Predators at the end of the 2nd period, with shots on goal favoring Anaheim by a count of 25-17.
The 3rd period began with the Ducks staring down a two goal deficit with 20 minutes to try to salvage a point. They traded chances early in the period with the Predators, with neither side being able to come away with anything.
Finally, a rush up ice led to a Derek Grant shot being deflected right to Jakob Silfverberg, and he did not miss his opportunity. Pekka Rinne lunged over, but was not in time as the puck sailed over him and the deficit was one. 4-3 Predators.
Chances continued to flow following the Ducks goal, surely giving both Peter Laviolette and Randy Carlyle heart attacks. Physicality was increasing with each shift, as were the scoring chances.
With approximately a minute and a half remaining in the game, John Gibson abandoned the crease to head to the bench, giving the Ducks the extra attacker. Randy Carlyle used his timeout with 1:21 to go to attempt to draw up something that would give the Ducks the equalizer that they had been working so hard for in this period.
Unfortunately, the offensive faceoff was for naught, as the Predators won the draw and PK Subban was able to hit the empty net from 200 feet away. 5-3 Predators with under 30 seconds remaining, and that would end up being the final at Honda Center.
The Ducks’ incredible 3rd period efforts fell just short and they left the game empty-handed, doomed by a poor start.
The Ducks are back in action tomorrow night when they travel to San Jose to take on the San Jose Sharks for a Pacific Division showdown.