Predators 4, Ducks 1: Fisher & Rinne lead the way

Well, that couldn't have gone much better, could it? An early power play goal for Shea Weber, a strong second period to extend the lead, 2 goals and an assist from Mike Fisher, and a bit of rough stuff late that gets the playoff blood boiling. Combine all that with Pekka Rinne's dominating performance (27 saves), and it all adds up to a 4-1 victory which effectively tips the home-ice advantage to Nashville during this Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Follow after the jump for your highlights, reaction, and of course, the advanced even-strength stats...

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Let's begin with the video highlights and Predators vs Ducks boxscore:

A few thoughts on tonight's game:

  • The pre-game buzz got going once we received word that Colin Wilson was joining J.P. Dumont in the press box in favor of Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat. Willy is one of just 3 Preds (along with Shea Weber and Jerred Smithson) to play all 82 games this season, and while he's probably deserved a few scratches ever since the All-Star break, it was surprising to see it finally happen tonight. The question is, how will he respond in the days ahead?
  • Talk about a mixture of emotions - just as Sergei Kostitsyn went down in the corner after an odd stumble down to the ice, Shea Weber put the Preds on the board with a patented blast from the blueline. Patric Hornqvist, of course, was fulfilling his duty by screening Dan Ellis in the Anaheim goal.
  • Pekka Rinne made his "I'm ready for the playoffs" with a jaw-dropping kick save on Teemu Selanne, who stood just off the crease and appeared to have a wide open net available. Just as teams can try to physically intimidate opponents and get them off their game, huge saves like that can get goal-scorers shaking their heads in frustration.
  • After a frenetic (but fairly even) first period, the Preds slowed down the tempo in the second, outshooting Anaheim 8-4 through the first 10 minutes. While they had to kill off a second Shane O'Brien penalty, they were able to get right back on the attack.
  • Speaking of that attack, how sweet was it to see Steve Sullivan convert on a breakaway? Or Mike Fisher pull up and fire that wrister to extend the lead to 3-0?
  • One thing I've really enjoyed about Fisher's play is his wrist shot, which is deceptively hard. His goal early in the 3rd was a great example of working with what the Anaheim defense offered - he had no path to the net, so just pulled up and shot through the screen, ending Dan Ellis' night.
  • You just knew that the penalty box would fill up over the final 15 minutes, that was classic "send a message" stuff from both sides. I'm not too concerned over the fact that Anaheim got a 5-on-3 chance and finally scored.
  • I mentioned before the game how bad a faceoff man Ryan Getzlaf is, and sure enough, he went just 3 for 13. As dangerous as his line is offensively, it's huge for the Preds to keep winning draws against him.
  • The kids were pretty impressive tonight. Jon Blum had a few nervous moments, but earned an assist in his first NHL playoff game, as did Blake Geoffrion.
  • Looking ahead to Game 2? I expect we'll see Ray Emery in goal, and at this point, it's hard to see Colin Wilson getting back into the Nashville lineup. Barry Trotz isn't one to change things up while the team is winning. Shane O'Brien will need a warning to stay out of the penalty box, but other than that, the Preds played quite well.

As for those advanced even-strength stats...

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 David Legwand C 15:27 1 3 1 0 9 6 +3 18 12 +6
 Joel Ward R 13:45 1 1 0 0 8 5 +3 15 11 +4
 Martin Erat R 13:20 1 1 0 0 8 3 +5 16 6 +10
 Jerred Smithson R 12:15 1 0 0 1 3 8 -5 6 17 -11
 Nick Spaling C 12:10 1 1 1 1 3 7 -4 8 14 -6
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 11:15 1 0 0 1 6 6 0 9 18 -9
 Mike Fisher C 10:40 2 0 1 1 5 4 +1 8 14 -6
 Jordin Tootoo R 10:36 2 0 0 0 5 7 -2 9 12 -3
 Patric Hornqvist R 10:04 2 0 1 2 6 7 -1 8 14 -6
 Matt Halischuk R 7:11 1 0 0 0 6 2 +4 10 5 +5
 Blake Geoffrion C 5:36 1 0 1 0 5 2 +3 7 4 +3
 Steve Sullivan L 5:27 2 1 0 0 4 3 +1 7 5 +2
 Kevin Klein D 18:21 1 2 0 2 10 10 0 20 23 -3
 Ryan Suter D 14:58 3 0 1 3 11 7 +4 18 18 0
 Jonathon Blum D 14:39 1 0 0 1 9 6 +3 18 14 +4
 Shea Weber D 13:46 2 0 1 0 9 7 +2 14 15 -1
 Shane O`Brien D 13:40 0 1 0 1 4 7 -3 5 11 -6
 Cody Franson D 9:37 0 0 0 1 4 3 +1 6 7 -1
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