Ducks 5, Predators 3: Early penalties doom Nashville as Anaheim ties the series

No teeth, no problem for Martin Erat.

We said the most important factor for the Nashville Predators in this series was to keep the play 5-on-5 and avoid penalties, and not following that advice is what cost them the victory tonight in Anaheim. A host of early penalties let the Ducks take a 2-0 lead, and the Preds never could quite catch up despite spirited efforts, especially in the 3rd period.

In the end, a goal and assist from Shea Weber, and a goal on 9 shots by Patric Hornqvist weren't enough, and this series will now shift to Nashville for Games 3 & 4, where the Predators will have the opportunity to seize the advantage.

Follow after the jump for video highlights, reaction, and the advanced stats...

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

A few thoughts on tonight's game:

  • You pretty much couldn't write a worse script to start things off than two unnecessary Slashing penalties giving the Ducks early PP goals. Erat's was probably the worse of the two, a totally useless slash on a guy deep in the offensive zone. When Shane O'Brien then broke a Duck's stick in half, that was an automatic call leading to the 5-on-3.
  • As nauseating as it was to see a Preds goal waved off by the officials, they made the right call on the Legwand interference call. His stick moved Ray Emery's skate out of the way as the puck was coming in.
  • Seeing the Predators finally get on the board early in the 2nd was a great relief. They finally got the puck moving around well as they forced the Anaheim penalty killers to remain deep in the zone, rather than pressure the points. Both the goal itself and the dangerous shot which set up the chance came after Weber slipped down below the faceoff dot.
  • Lots of guys had their poor moments tonight, but Kevin Klein had two stinkers within a matter of seconds. First he got beat badly by Bobby Ryan on the 3rd Ducks goal, then he had a wide-open net available after Marty Erat drove in, and he flubbed a weak shot right into Emery.
  • Even though it only brought the Preds to within two goals, Hornqvist's power play tally early in the 3rd was a positive, if only to get his confidence going. I was really concerned with the way he was reacting to all the face-washing in front. It's rough work, but he has to take that stuff to both conserve his energy and draw more penalties.
  • Erat doesn't strike us generally as one of the tougher Preds (his reluctance to drive the net is maddening), but give him credit for coming back quickly after getting his front teeth knocked out and assisting on Joel Ward's goal to make it 4-3.
  • The Ducks really ran out of gas midway through the 3rd, yielding all the momentum to the Preds. Kostitsyn's hip-check was a beauty, as you usually don't see a hit like that made in open ice.
  • All in all, this one really feels like a lost opportunity. The Predators simply shot themselves in the foot with all the early penalties, and dug themselves too deep a hole to crawl out of. It's time to regroup in Nashville on Sunday, and dictate the pace there.
  • And of course the other question... will Bobby Ryan get suspended for stomping Jonathon Blum's foot?

Now for your 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 14:53 1 0 0 0 5 6 -1 10 9 +1
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 14:27 1 0 2 0 12 6 +6 24 11 +13
 Martin Erat R 14:26 1 2 0 0 8 4 +4 12 8 +4
 Patric Hornqvist R 13:36 7 2 0 3 12 5 +7 21 12 +9
 Mike Fisher C 13:21 2 1 0 1 12 5 +7 21 11 +10
 Joel Ward R 12:19 1 0 0 0 5 3 +2 8 4 +4
 Steve Sullivan L 8:42 1 1 1 0 3 6 -3 7 8 -1
 Jordin Tootoo R 8:17 2 0 1 0 2 5 -3 8 5 +3
 Blake Geoffrion C 8:05 1 0 0 0 4 9 -5 7 10 -3
 Nick Spaling C 7:47 0 0 0 0 2 7 -5 8 7 +1
 Matt Halischuk R 7:33 0 0 0 0 3 6 -3 7 6 +1
 Jerred Smithson R 7:30 0 1 1 0 2 7 -5 7 7 0
 Ryan Suter D 17:04 2 2 0 1 7 12 -5 16 21 -5
 Kevin Klein D 15:48 1 1 1 0 11 9 +2 18 9 +9
 Shea Weber D 15:16 2 2 2 1 6 10 -4 13 19 -6
 Jonathon Blum D 15:08 1 0 0 0 11 5 +6 18 5 +13
 Cody Franson D 12:29 0 1 1 0 7 4 +3 13 5 +8
 Shane O`Brien D 11:49 0 0 0 0 4 6 -2 12 7 +5
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