The Nashville Predators returned to Bridgestone Arena after a scheduled three-game road trip—which became a two-game trip after the game against Ottawa was postponed—that included zero wins. The team will have a chance to regroup this week at home, and the first opportunity came tonight against the Anaheim Ducks.
Juuse Saros and John Gibson got the starts for Nashville and Anaheim, respectively, as the Predators came away with a 3-2 victory over the rival Ducks.
After both teams traded shots early in the period, Nashville earned the first power play opportunity of the night when Cam Fowler sent his stick high on Eeli Tolvanen. The team was unable to convert on the opening man advantage sequence of the night, but Josh Mahura was called for interference on Alexandre Carrier, thus sending Nashville right back onto the power play.
The second two-minute power play pushed the clock past the halfway mark of the period; despite peppering John Gibson with shots, the second power play expired and the score remained 0-0. Ryan Johansen changed that. In transition, Joey found himself on Gibson’s glove side, and wristed a shot past the American goalie. Johansen’s goal got the crowd going, and Michael McCarron mixing it up with a few Ducks amplified the noise echoing from the stands. You didn’t think this rivalry had gone anywhere, did you?
That would do it for period one, as the Predators led 1-0 in the early stages of a game that was becoming as physical as you would expect from a Preds-Ducks matchup.
Juuse Saros was put to work quickly in the second period, facing multiple high-danger shots in the first minute of play. He stood tall, but Tanner Jeannot was sent to the penalty box in the chaos for tripping. Anaheim was unable to score on the man advantage before shooting itself in the foot with another penalty. Trevor Zegras cross checked Carrier, sending the rest of Anaheim’s power play into a four-on-four that quickly became a Nashville power play.
The Predators failed to extend the lead to two on the resulting power play, as the momentum slowly shifted to the visiting team. This shift was capitalized on by the Ducks when Rickard Rakell found himself right in front of the net. With nobody home to stop him, he sent a wrist shot of his own past Saros to even the score at one.
Anaheim continued to apply pressure on the Predators, generating plenty of possession and preventing Nashville from doing the same. Still, the penalty issues that have plagued the Ducks reappeared in the form of another penalty on Zegras—this time, a tripping call.
Finally, Nashville made the Ducks pay.
Right off of the faceoff in the Ducks’ zone, Mikael Granlund received the puck from Matt Duchene and fired a shot past Gibson, sending Bridgestone to its feet and giving the lead back to Nashville. Both teams exchanged chances to end the period, but neither squad would put the puck in the net. Once again, the Predators would end the period with a one-goal lead.
One of the Nashville skaters must have walked underneath a ladder in the second intermission, because the Ducks tied the game early in the third period on a goal you have to see to believe. Jamie Drysdale sent in the puck from the blue line, but the puck rebounded off of two different Predators and into the net. You just can’t make that up.
With a newly tied game, both teams pushed the pedal to the metal in an effort to secure the game-winning goal. Neither team could, as each side traded unfulfilled chances. Finally, with a little under eight minutes remaining in regulation, Yakov Trenin hustled to secure a loose puck, drove it towards Gibson, and rifled it into the net. With that goal, Nashville had less than half a period to kill in order to secure the first two points in over a week.
With five minutes to go, Roman Josi took an interference penalty to prevent a scoring chance for Anaheim that sent the Ducks on the power play. The high-octane sequence had some absurd pressure placed on Saros, but the Predators successfully killed the penalty. The Ducks pulled Gibson with two minutes to go, and the visitors were able to sustain pressure the rest of the way. Saros didn’t care. Preds win, 3-2.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Yakov Trenin — Scored the game winner. ‘Nuff said.
- Ryan Johansen — Opened up the scoring.
- Mikael Granlund — Scored a goal, won everyone cookies!