Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preds Win Thriller; Take 2-1 Series Lead

Playoff hockey was at its best on Sunday night as the Predators defeated the Ducks by a 4-3 score in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd. A raucous home crowd, and the prospect of taking a lead in the series was enough to get things going for Nashville.

Martin Erat got the scoring started for the Predators when he scored on a rebound to put the Preds up 1-0 on the power-play 15:00 into the 1st period. Just 38 seconds later, Jordin Tootoo put the Preds up by two on a great individual effort. Tootoo got the puck and rang his first shot off the post, and then scored on the rebound while falling to the ice. The Preds went into the 1st intermission with a 12-4 shot advantage and a 2-0 lead.

In the 2nd period, the Preds dominated the play but almost let the Ducks take control of the game. Mike Fisher took on Ryan Getzlaf in a decent fight, but that seemed to provide Anaheim with a little jump. Teemu Selanne struck on the power-play for the Ducks and then scored 30 seconds later to tie the game at two at the end of the 2nd period.

The 3rd period can be summed up in one word: wild. David Legwand scored for the Preds at 5:25 of the period to put Nashville up 3-2, but that wouldn't last very long. Matt Belesky fell to the ice and had the fortunate luck of a puck hitting off of him and getting past Pekka Rinne at 6:48 of the 3rd to tie the game at three. Then came the defining moment of the game, and possibly the series. Sergei Kostitsyn got the puck down low and made a beautiful backhand pass that was one-timed in by Mike Fisher. That gave the Preds a 4-3 lead that they would hold on to.

Things to take away from Game 3:

The crowd in Nashville was simply sensational. The building had so much energy in it, and gave the Predators a huge jump. It was truly a treat to be a part of.

Mike Fisher has taken his game to another level. It's at a level that has not been seen by any Nashville Predator player in the postseason history of the franchise. He's hungry to win.

Corey Perry is one of the dirtiest players I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. Like one Preds fan said while leaving the arena, "If I were playing, he wouldn't make it through the next game in one piece".

The Ducks may have missed Bobby Ryan, but it's clear that Teemu Selanne is the impact player for them. What he's able to do at the age of 40 is simply unnatural.

Nashville did what it was supposed to do. They won on home ice, and now have the chance to go up 3-1 in the series on home ice on Wednesday night for Game 4.


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