The Nashville Predators needed two points tonight, and that's exactly what they got, holding off the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in front of the 14th sellout of the year at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators held a 5-1 lead midway through the third, but the Ducks would not go away, scoring three straight, including two on the power play, and capitalizing off of numerous Nashville mistakes. The lead was just too much, however, and the Predators were able to hang on, earning their 20th home win for the 6th straight year.
Follow after the jump for video highlights, some thoughts on tonight's game, and postgame audio:
Video highlights are being a little weird tonight, but here they are:
- A rusty Jonas Hiller got the start in net for Anaheim, and Hiller looked shaky from the start. Just two minutes in, Sergei Kostitsyn put in a rebound in front of the net, giving Nashville the early lead. It looked like Patric Hornqvist tried to throw the puck in front, but it went through Hiller's legs, landing right in Kostitsyn's lap and he put it home.
- Jonathan Blum fired a shot wide of the net, but Nick Spaling got the rebound off the boards and put it by Hiller who was caught out of position. 19 seconds later, Hornqvist threw a puck at the net that Kostitsyn redirected in to make it 3-0. Hiller had let in 3 goals in 9 shots not 12 minutes into the game. It seemed like he was about half a second behind every play, and Ducks coach Randy Carlyle had no choice but to yank the embattled goaltender, sending in Dan Ellis. More on Ellis later.....
- Anaheim's first line of Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan were overwhelming Nashville's defense early. Rinne kept them off the scoreboard for a good part of the first period, but with 16:01 gone in the game, Bobby Ryan passed the puck in front of the net, between the legs of Blum, and right to Corey Perry who finally got the Ducks on the board with his 41st goal on the year.
- Nashville was lucky to get out of the first with a 3-1 lead. The defense allowed 15 shots on goal, and were it not for a couple of
routineincredible, diving saves from Rinne, and shoddy play from Hiller, this easily could've been 3-1 the other way.
- Pekka Rinne continued his stellar play in the second period stopping Andreas Lilja on a breakaway. Lilja caught the Predators defense off guard coming out of the penalty box, but Rinne made the stop, drawing an early standing ovation from the Nashville faithful.
- It was awesome to see Jordin Tootoo get his first goal since he entered the NHL's substance abuse program, sliding in a one-timer from O'Brien that gave Predator fans frosties just 1:40 into the second period. The goal was also the first one Dan Ellis has allowed in Nashville since joining the Ducks, leading to a series of #DanEllisProblems tweets as well as a louder than normal goalie chant in Bridgestone Arena.
- The Nashville defense played much better in the second period, only allowing 5 shots on goal. And after David Legwand scored a short-handed goal with 10:31 to play the game was over, right? Nashville up 5-1 at home against a team with Dan Ellis in net and Pekks standing on his head? Wrong.
- Joel Ward was called for a penalty on the Legwand goal, and rightfully so. He crashed into Ellis after the puck had gone in, drawing a roughing penalty, and the Ducks were able to capitalize on a beautiful backhander from Teemu Selanne just ten seconds later to make it 5-2.
- The mistakes continued to pile up for Nashville, as Nick Spaling and Shane O'Brien were called for hooking 38 seconds apart. Anaheim capitalized off of a whacky play, with Selanne trying to send over a pass that was tipped off of Suter's glove and went in past Rinne. Suddenly, we had a game in Nashville.
- The Ducks called a timeout and pulled Dan Ellis. It was David Legwand time, right? Sort of. Legwand made two bonehead plays, twice trying to pass it to Kostitsyn and get him the hat trick, but instead turning the puck over. Sure we like to make jokes about Legwand and empty net goals, but he has to be thinking about icing the win, especially in a game as critical as this one.
- The Ducks got more help from Suter as he tipped in a Corey Perry slap shot off of his foot with 27 seconds to go in the game. Nashville was able to kill off the remaining time, holding on for the win, but they cannot be happy with this one. Between the Buffalo game on Sunday, and seeing Anaheim comeback like they did against Dallas last night, one would think the Predators would be wary of late game mistakes, but that was not the case. I hope Trotz let 'em hear it after the game.
- On a night where Rinne was once again imPekkable in net, it stinks that it won't appear that way on the stat sheet. Of the four goals he let in tonight, one was a 5-on-3, and two were tipped in by his own teammate. I know wins are the only stats that matter at the end of the day, but with Rinne in such a tightly contested battle with Tim Thomas for the Vezina trophy, voters are going to look to the statistics, and tonight won't look pretty.
- A win is a win though, so I'll take the two points, but the Predators can't be happy. They've got a day off, though, to fix their mistakes before the Dallas Stars come to town for another crucial western conference tilt. Nashville currently sits at 5th in the West, and will remain there, even if the Kings hold on to beat San Jose, but it's really all a moot point with the standings as tight as they are.
For more coverage head over to Anaheim Calling for a Duck's perspective.