Who remembers that NES classic, Duck Hunt?
I know Anaheim gets this reference more than they would like, but I cannot resist bringing it up.
I used to spend countless hours in front of the tube shooting at those green, blue and black ducks with a satisfaction that I was actually accomplishing something. It appears that the guys on the Predators used to do the same thing, but have something to show for it as they beat the ducks 5-4 in front of a sold out crowd.
It was crucial for the Predators to win this game as they were only one point ahead of the Ducks and only two and three ahead of the 9th and 10th seeds in this very tight Western Conference playoff race. The two points Nashville picked up Thursday night put them three points ahead of the Ducks and four and five points ahead of the Stars and Flames respectively. This provides a cushion for the Predators as they have now won five straight games and 7 of the last 10 and jump to 5th place in the conference.
The Preds showed they were in the zone early as Sergei Kostitsyn scored off of a rebound 2:04 in the first period.
The goal came after Cody Franson took a shot from the point that was blocked by Jonas Hiller and sent to the corner boards. Patric Horqvist retrieved the puck and took a wrister from the side of the net that seemed to disappear behind Hiller until Kostitsyn scooped it up and buried it in the basket.
The Predators continued to play a strong first period and were rewarded with a goal at 11:18. The play started with a dump to keep the puck in the zone by Jonathon Blum and was picked up around the boards by Jerred Smithson. Smithson passed the puck to Jordin Tootoo, who immediately sent the puck back to Blum for a slap shot from the point. The puck went wide and hit the end boards rather than the back of the net, but Nick Spaling was able to pick up the rebound and get it passed Hiller.
The Ducks faltered after Spaling's goal and 19 seconds later Kostitsyn would score his second goal of the night to raise the tally 3-0. Kostitsyn, parked in front of the net, tipped the puck in off a shot from Hornqvist. Kevin Klein picked up an assist on the goal as well.
Enter, Dan Ellis.
We all remember this guy, right? He was our starting goalie last year but was replaced by the better netminder, Pekka Rinne. Thursday night Ellis was given the opportunity to take a little sweet revenge on the Predators after Hiller allowed three goals in after facing just seven shots. Ellis proved to be the better goalie for Anaheim as he faced five shots for the remainder of the period, turning them all away.
Corey Perry and the rest of the Anaheim team had had enough of being outscored and answered at the 16:01 mark of the period. Perry's goal was the result of tremendous pressure applied by the Ducks on Pekka Rinne. Lubomir Visnovsky started the play with a shot from the point but Rinne stayed in front of it. The puck was sent to the corner where Ryan Getzlaf sent it over to Bobby Ryan who fed it to Perry who was waiting patiently by the open net.
The Ducks continued to apply pressure for the remaning minutes of the period but were unable to capitalize. Shots on goal was favored by Anaheim with a total of 15 and Nashville with a period total of 12.
There were quite a bit of chances for both teams during the second, but neither could generate any goals. With a 1:40 left in the second, Tootoo was able to get the puck passed the pads of Ellis to make the score 4-1.
That is two points in one game for Tootoo, which is amazing to me. I have recently started to feel as though Toot's is just a waste of player for our team because he never seems to be able to do anything that is helpful for the team. After tonight, I am giving him a chance to redeem himself in my eyes. I know the rest of Nashville loves him, so I will try to follow suit.
Shots on goal for the second period. Anahiem five, for a total of 20. Nashville 10, for a total of 22.
Penalties were a big problem for Nashville in the third. The first came when Hornqvist was given a two minute minor for holding at 4:42. The penalty kill unit proved to be as effective as it has been all season. At 7:57, Shane O'brien was charged with a delay of game by shooting the puck over the glass. The PK unit was on top of their game yet again and even generated a short handed goal by David Legwand. Score 5-1.
Joel Ward passed the puck to Legwand at the blue line and he was then able to take the puck right outside the slot to score the short handed goal. Klein also got an assist on the goal. However, immediately after the goal, Ward was given a two minute minor for roughing and the Predators would be down two men. The Ducks took advantage of this 5on3 advantage 10 seconds later as Teemu Selanne brought the puck in along the boards and took a wrist shot that beat Rinne glove side. Assists given to Perry and Getzlaf.
Selanne struck again on the power play bringing the Ducks within two goals of Nashville at 15:24. The shot from Selanne bounced off Ryan Suter's stick causing the puck to go through Rinne's legs and into the net. Getzlaf and Visnovsky were given the assists.
Having the momentum in their favor after the two power play goals, the Ducks pulled Ellis out of net for the extra attacker with 2:56 left in regulation. Anaheim had a few chances of burrying the puck, but Rinne was solid in net. The Predators tried to hit the empty net a few times, but were unable to hit twine. Mike Fisher was given a golden opportunity to hit the Ducks' vulnerable net, but shot just over the crossbar.
Suter made a play 26.5 seconds left in regulation that he and everyone else would like to forget. Perry made a saucer pass attempt to Selanne for a one timer, but Suter got between the puck and Selanne and meant to kick the puck away. However, Suter kicked the puck into his own net giving the goal to Perry and making the score 5-4.
Though the Ducks managed to get within one goal, they were not able to generate anymore offense and the Preds picked up the win and the two points.
Nashville takes the season series against Anaheim 3-1.
The Predators take on the Dallas Stars Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena, where they hope to be as effective at shooting Stars as they were Ducks.