The first two minutes were very stop-start as both teams felt each-other out - then chances slowly began to take form as Nashville executed some rushing defence (Josi taking it to the front of the net after what looked like a pick-play on the boards) and Anaheim with some good work by Montour sneaking in from the point. Then four minutes in as the Kesler line made what is most likely their most ugly zone entry ever - Silfverberg got to a rolling puck and wripped a wicked shot to the top right corner past a screened Rinne.
The Predators held momentum up until the next TV timeout - pinning the Ducks in their zone for long stretches, during that span Boll had a chance to clear but did not. Shots were 12-1 in favour of the Predators at the 10 minute mark.
Four minutes later a couple of awful plays by Vermette lead to the Predators getting a tying goal off a deflection in front. Guess who. Forsberg physics. Oh yea and he was Vermettes man.
The 4th line followed up the goal with a good shift and chance in the slot by Thompson before Nashville had a few more good shifts and it was starting to look like one of those nights. Then the Kesler and Getzlaf lines put together back to back dominant shifts culminating in a goal mouth fracas that Wagner took a retaliatory penalty on when he returned a Ryan Ellis punch.
However the Ducks looked confident killing the penalty and the period ended in the 1-1 tie, shots 15 Preds to the Ducks 6.
The second began with a few average shifts and it seemed like nether team was in control until a Nashville semi-odd-man rush lead the defence to back-up and allowed a cross-ice pass that was put on net and deflected off Vatanen and in.
2-1 Preds four minutes in. #2ndPeriodXperience
The Getzlaf line followed that up with a strong shift and a point shot on the following offensive zone start from the Vermette line but Rinne stood tall.
The Preds 4th line got in on the Vermette line and Theodore to cause a dangerous chance but Gibby was there for the save. A few minutes later the Predators took a hooking penalty during an offensive zone push and the Ducks were on one of those man-advantage things that we hear so much about but dont tend to see. They had a few good chances, putting the Nashville PK on their heels at points but the Predators managed to kill it. A minute later a high elbow from Ryan Ellis on Cogliano meant another Ducks powerplay. But on this one the Ducks barely got setup in the zone and could be best described as terribad.
A huge shift by the Getzlaf line and some massive heavy-lifting by Perry resulted in a golden opportunity for the captain but his one timer was denied off the tap-pass from Rakell. The third line followed that up when a spin pass from beside the net had Vermette alone on the right side but he fanned/missed the pass. Yea Vermette was having a nightmare game. After that shift he was demoted to the fourth line. The Ducks had carried momentum and all the chances ever since those two powerplays. A monster hit by Boll on Jarnkrok lead to a flurry of Ducks chances in the Nashville zone but they couldnt get it past Rinne, then Lindholm was called for interference and the Predators went back to the Powerplay. The Ducks killed the minor but it effectively killed what little momentum that had generated. The period ended with convserative play as each team appeared to want to go back and regroup after trading swings of possession.
2-1 Preds after sixty minutes, shots 32 to 17 in favour of Nashville.
The 3rd began with Ritchie elevated to the Getzlaf line - and as Ritchie tends to do - he got a bit overzealous on a hit and took an interference(?) penalty to put the Ducks down a man early.
The Ducks killed the penalty - traded a few chances with the Predators until a high stick on Getzlaf from Ekholm lead to a Ducks powerplay that culminated in a huge chance for Getzlaf but he failed to elevate the shot over Rinnes left pad.
Following the TV timeout; and as yours truly was busy typing up that last paragraph - Nate Thompson won a faceoff back to the point where Hampus Lindholm measured a beautiful shot that Rinne had no chance on as it banged in off the top left post.
At the ten minute mark Getzlaf had a brain fart and flipped a rolling puck out of the zone on the full for an automatic delay of game penalty. Thirty seconds into the penalty kill Nate Thompson repeated the mistake and all of a sudden the Predators have a 5 on 3 for a minute and a half.
Tight D down low and a huge block by Kesler at the blue line helped to kill the lengthy 5 on 3 with Gibby making a good lunging chest stop in the dying seconds of the last infraction. Suddenly Honda Center got very loud as the Ducks appeared to be getting some momentum back thanks to the monumental kill.
Johansen took a slashing penalty on Kesler a few minutes later to send the Ducks on the Powerplay with 5 minutes remaining in the final frame.
The following Ducks powerplay was static and the Predators killed it without much trouble. The remaining time seemed to fly by without a stoppage and in the dying the minute had several opportunities to put the game away but where unable to get the pick past a sprawling Rinne.
The extra period began with speculation that Kesler might have possibly hurt himself on that 5 on 3 blocked shot as Getzlaf saw double shifted time with both the first and second lines. But after 9 minutes Kesler came back on. The Ducks had the best opportunity early when Perry had the puck in front but Ekholm got it away from him before he could spin around to put it in.
Theodore had a chance five minutes later on a nice feed from Getzlaf but Rinne made the stop.
Then with nine minutes left a cross ice fake-shot-pass from Subban to Neal to one-time past Gibson for the winner.
It should also be noted that Neal had just the shift before pasted Montour on a hit that looked like he took about ten strides before taking it - because he is James Neal and nothing is ever clean with him.
Tough loss but there is hope.
Game 2 is Sunday night back at Honda Center.