The Ducks took their three-game winning streak to Nashville to take on the nine-game winning streak of the Predators. The Predators would play a dominant first 40 minutes, which would ultimately lead them to a victory. While the Ducks would make it close in the final 20, they couldn’t climb out of the hole they had dug themselves and took a 4-2 defeat.
Let’s take a look at how this game broke down period-by-period.
The game got underway after a brief ceremony to honor Predators GM David Poile for reaching an impressive 1320 all-time wins as general manager, making him the winningest general manager in the NHL’s history.
The Predators opened with some early pressure, forcing Anaheim to take a few icing calls in the first minutes of the game. The Ducks would counter with some slight pressure of their own, but it would be the Predators that strike first through Craig Smith just 5:26 into the game. 1-0 Predators.
The game would slow down quite a bit after this goal, with chances becoming more scarce as the Ducks tried to lock themselves in defensively. Hard to win in a shootout against one of the most stacked, powerful teams in the league, but also hard to win if you’re not pushing offensively. Oh, the dilemmas, Randy. Whatever shall you choose to do...
The Ducks would again try to apply some pressure in the Nashville zone later in the period, and once again, it would be the Predators that got the puck in the net. On an odd-man rush, a puck was sent to the front of the net and Ryan Johansen would be the one to deflect it in behind Gibson, who had no chance on the play. 2-0 Predators with 4:50 remaining in the opening frame.
Nick Ritchie decided to respond to this adversity the only way he knows how......by taking a penalty. Predators to the power play with 2:35 left in the opening period that I really wish would just end.
The Ducks were able to kill off the penalty and survive the end of the first period down by only a pair. The final buzzer brought a lot of pushing and shoving, but both teams separated and headed down the tunnels without further discipline.
The 2nd period started with the 2nd line of Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg looking dangerous offensively for the first time in a while. The Predators responded with pressure of their own, but neither team was able to break past the opposing goaltender.
The period remained largely uneventful, as both teams remained disciplined, both in terms of composure and defensively. Shots on goal were few and far between, and neither team was able to generate any truly dangerous chances.
The Ducks would get a power play opportunity with just 1:46 remaining in the second period, and they would immediately turn it into a 3-0 lead for the Predators. Yes, that’s correct, Austin Watson cleaned up a breakaway just 29 seconds into the man advantage for Anaheim and extended the lead for the Predators. Oh boy.
The ensuing faceoff would feature Ryan Kesler finally getting his chance to punch the ever-living hell out of Ryan Johansen’s face. Johansen decided to drop the gloves before the puck was even dropped, and I’m sure he regretted it immediately, as Kesler utterly destroyed him.
The Ducks were unable to capitalize on the power play through the remainder of the 2nd period and would head into the final frame down by three.
The 3rd period started with the Ducks opening up some pressure in the Nashville zone in the first three or so minutes. The Ducks recorded the first five shots on goal in the period but were still unable to find a way through Pekka Rinne.
The Ducks would FINALLY break through after a beautiful move and pass from Corey Perry to set up Rickard Rakell for a very easy tap-in goal to an empty net. Perry wound up as though he was going to shoot and ended up putting a perfect pass on the tape of a wide-open Rakell at the far post. 3-1 with about 14 minutes to go.
Ryan Ellis would get called for hooking with 10:21 remaining in regulation and the Ducks down a pair. The Ducks would be unable to get any pucks past Rinne, despite getting a few shots directed towards the net on the man advantage.
With 3:25 left in regulation, the consistent pressure from the Ducks paid off once again, as it was once again Rickard Rakell who got his 30th goal of the season and brought the Ducks to within one. 3-2. Did they have the late game comeback magic in them once again?
The Predators would answer right back on a 2-on-1 rush with Viktor Arvidsson delivering the dagger to the Ducks with only 1:46 remaining in regulation. 4-2. Le sigh.
Final score, 4-2 Predators. Comeback effort stifled.
The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow night as they complete their road trip back-to-backs in Dallas against the Stars.