The Predators beat a bad Ducks team at home tonight--thankfully--and with a little luck, could have done so more handily.
The Ducks didn't even register a shot on net through the first 14:57. In the meantime, the Predators had already put the puck in the net twice, to no benefit on the scoreboard. Colin Wilson had an early power play tally erased by an on-ice "distinct kicking motion" call that the situation room in Toronto felt distinct enough to let stand upon video review. Then Mike Fisher whacked a loose puck from Dan Ellis' glove, but was rebuffed by the infamous "intent to blow" rule.
Having thoroughly dominated so far, with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, the Predators risked a real psychic collapse when the Ducks scored first, just 38 seconds in the second period. Andrew Gordon muscled Roman Josi to the ground in a board battle and Josi's hesitation getting up let Gordon cruise to the front of the Preds' net mostly unmolested and score.
The Predators, though, despite a few sloppy shifts, mostly kept the Ducks at bay. They finally broke through when Colin Wilson nicely hesitated on a breakaway and found Nick Spaling alone in the slot. Roman Josi drew the only defenseman on the Ducks' roster, Toni Lydman, out of the play, giving Spals a clear lane.
Nashville took its first lead of the night when Roman Josi scored his first career NHL goal on the Preds' third power play. Jordin Tootoo then gave the good guys the most dangerous lead in hockey, going coast to coast on a nice bank pass from Kevin Klein.
Francois Beauchemin brought the ducks within one after a hard-working forecheck late in the third period, but it was too little too late. Josi totally took Pekka Rinne out of the play on this goal with a nice shoulder to shoulder hit, further asserting that nothing of significance happens on the ice that Roman Josi doesn't directly cause.
highlights, notes & errata after the jump
Post-game audio is available from Barry Trotz, Jordin Tootoo, Colin Wilson, and Roman Josi (click each name for the MP3).
- What kind of bizarro world is this in which the Predators suck 5-on-5 but succeed on the power play? After years of the man advantage being the Preds' achilles heel, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, and Lane Lambert (imagine that line) have totally changed the special teams. Even though the PP was 1/4 tonight, it could have easily been 3/4 or 4/4, given the quality and quantity of chances. Finally a coach on Barry Trotz's bench figured it might be good to try something other than: Weber shoots from the blue line, while the forwards watch. If there's one reason to be optimistic about this mostly middling team, here it is. Let's add a few players, Mr. Poile, and see what a good Preds team with good special teams coaching can do.
- That said, it was funny, on the third power play, to see Suter and Weber try unsuccessfully to get the pick-and-roll Weber-one-timer play going, and then have Roman Josi right afterward score on a simple, well-placed shot.
- "cow girls butts, drive me nuts" --a wise man and great hockey player
- Speaking of, that was not a distinct kicking motion. Willy angled his skate to deflect the puck and then turned in to brake.
- Two ho-hum fights tonight. The first, between McGrattan and Parros was your typical, staged, emotionless enforcer wrestling match. Then Bobby Ryan challenged Fisher early in the third and Fisher obliged. Why would Fisher let Ryan shame him into that fight? Probably because Fisher was confident he could break Ryan's angelic face Edward-Norton-style, and I, for one, wish he had gotten the chance.
- obligatory shot of Carrie Underwood watching the fight, taken with Pete Weber's cell phone, I presume:
- Kostitsyn took multiple shots! Shooting My Way Out of the Doghouse: The Sergei Kostitsyn Story
- Ellie was playing a nice game in net, but no one can last in front of that defense.
- Anaheim apparently couldn't go a whole game without spearing someone, as Brandon McMillan stabbed Jordin Tootoo and got caught, booked for slashing.
- Lucas Sbisa is Downy-soft. Mike Fisher blew past him on multiple occasions, Colin Wilson jacked him up at the Preds blue line, and he laughably took a run at Shea Weber and bounced right off. An extremely mixed night for Team Switzerland's second pairing.
- I like a nice tic-tac-toe goal as much as the next guy. But Martin Erat finally discovered tonight when the third pass on a 3-on-1 breakaway is too many: when the third guy is David Legwand. Passing from Craig Smith, to Erat, to Legwand is just stepping down the shot-quality ladder with each dish. SHOOT.
- Peter Horachek's contempt for Pete and Terry is well-documented. But what about the budding Lambert-MaHo beef:
Here's your OTF fan of the game. There's nothing funnier than watching someone making a life-changing revelation, while goofy, stereotypical Italian music plays.