I cannot believe I am saying this, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Kevin Bieksa back in the lineup. This is bolded for legal purposes.
An amazing Anaheim Ducks first period? Yes, you heard me right.
It is not a Ducks playoff game without a goal from a Swede. Rickard Rakell opened the scoring at 11:30 with a clap bomb from the top of the left circle. Cam Fowler was able to find the winger all alone waiting at the offensive blue line while the Predators were mid change. As soon as the pressure started to come, Rakell let a clapper fly, and Rinne whiffed with his blocker. 1-0 Anaheim.
This was easily the best period the Ducks have played all series. The skaters carried a 14-2 edge in shots and a 22-6 lead in shot attempts (I need more of this in my life). The Ducks nearly scored in the opening minutes of the game. Anaheim was able to find the mid slot and get off some great opportunities, but the Nashville skaters were able to block them away.
Kevin Bieksa was due for a brain fart after an above average first frame. While on a one on one with Filip Forsberg, Bieksa tried to take the body instead of worrying about the puck. It worked for a while, but Forsberg was able to completely shake off the defenseman and get a great chance. Gibson made a solid save with his leg to keep Nashville off the scoreboard. Luckily for the Ducks it did not result in a goal.
Nick Ritchie extended the Anaheim lead to two with a wrister past Pekka Rinne. Ritchie was able to use the Nashville defender as a screen while changing the shooting angle. The shot went top glove and was an absolute snipe. Although he is a big body, he seems to love shooting from the perimeter. If he can keep improving his lateral skating, he could thrive with his shot. This Ritchie should show up more often.
Shots at the end of the second were 26-20 in favor of Anaheim.
The most penalized team showed what they were known for in the final period. Anaheim took a total of four penalties in the final twenty minutes of regulation. Three of which came in only six plus minutes of play. Even though Anaheim was able to kill a 5 on 3, they were never able to regain the momentum. The Ducks essentially gifted the Predators a chance back into the game, and boy did it cost them.
In between one of Anaheim’s many penalties, PK Subban scored from the point to cut the score to 2-1. Wilson and Arvidsson picked up the assists. All Anaheim had to do was kill off the last six minutes of the game.
That did not happen.
With less than a minute to spare, messy things hit the fan. Manson was boarded behind the net while waiting for the puck to come back down to the ice. No call. Lindholm was punched in the face in the crease. No call. Vermette was on the ice. Play goes on. Vermette, a fourth liner who was bought out by one of the worst teams in the league, was trying to tie up Forsberg’s stick but was easily overpowered. Forsberg’s tying goal now gives him a goal in every game of the series.
Nasvhille scored their two goals on only three shots. Ducks hockey.
Rakell had an early chance after Perry artfully created a turnover. The puck went right to Getzlaf who fed the puck down to Rakell. Ricky’s first shot on net was stopped, but his second attempt rung off the iron. Oof so close.
Dagger. Corey Perry is a good hockey player. The top line (it is about time) winger scored his third overtime goal of these playoffs. It was almost a complete clone of the overtime goal in the first series against Calgary. Perry threw a puck into the crease from the right boards and the puck found its way behind Rinne. Luckily, the goal glanced off PK Subban’s stick and in.
Anaheim will be back in action Saturday for Game 5 at the Honda Center. The game will be televised on NBC so get ready for a treat.