Saturday, October 29, 2011

Preds fluster Ducks to earn second straight win


(Photo credit: Sarah Fuqua of crowncube.com)

The Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-0 on Saturday night in front of 16,395 at Bridgestone Arena. Pekka Rinne earned his second shutout of the season, and Nashville out shot the opposition for the first time all season by a margin of 29-20.

Nashville struck almost immediately when Patric Hornqvist slammed one past Jonas Hiller from the crease. The goal was scored 14 seconds into the game, and it gave the Predators the momentum.

"It's always huge to start on a good note. We played well on the first shift, and we kept having the momentum. We battled to the end," said Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon.

Brian McGrattan and George Parros squared off at 6:46 of the first period. It was a good fight between two heavyweights, but McGrattan got the better of Parros in the fight. That would only be the beginning of the physicality in this game.

Later in the period, Mike Fisher was hit in the head by Francois Beauchemin while skating into the offensive zone. Fisher did not have the puck. After the hit, Kevin Klein immediately went after Beauchemin to stick up for his teammate. Beauchemin was given a two minute minor for roughing and a two minute minor for an illegal check to the head. Klein was given a double minor on the play for roughing. Fisher skated off with an upper body injury and did not return to the game for the remainder of the evening.

"I was on the ice, but I was kind of far away so I had to see it on the screen. I saw the review, and that was pretty bad. That's what we battle for is to avoid those kinds of hits. I was surprised that (Beleskey) just got four minutes, but the league is going to review that hit," Bouillon said.

The Predators seemed to use that play as motivation because they turned the intensity up a notch in the series that followed. At 18:59 of the first period, Martin Erat put the Predators up 2-0 in his first game back since injury. He made a great play entering the zone and fed the puck to Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo was able to maneuver his way around the defenseman and thread a perfect pass to Erat for the goal.

Anaheim got their best chances in the second period. They put up 10 shots, but were unable to put one past Rinne. At one point, Rinne made a series of saves without his stick. Nashville would still have the 2-0 lead after two periods of play.

"He's the man. It's always great for your team to know that your goalie is solid game after game. It's a must. If you want to go to the Stanley Cup, that's what you need. We've got two great big-guy goaltenders, and we're pretty lucky to have Peks," Bouillon said.

In the third, things got a little hairy again. Brandon McMillan took a double minor for high-sticking, which put the Predators on the power play. Nashville captain Shea Weber got his first goal of the year when he unleashed a missile from the point. It snuck under the crossbar, and put the Predators up by three.

Corey Perry speared Jordin Tootoo at 12:23 of the third period, which subsequently resulted in a fight between Blake Geoffrion and Matt Beleskey. Sheldon Brookbank added another double minor for high-sticking less than two minutes later, and the Predators were able to hold on for the victory.

It was very apparent that the Ducks wanted to lure the Predators into taking bad penalties. Nashville responded well, and Anaheim's plan backfired on them. Perry handed out several questionable hits and jabs, which only added to his bad standing with the Nashville faithful. The Ducks still had a bad taste in their mouths from last year's playoff series, and it showed.

"Maybe we started something last year in the playoffs. It's never fun for a team to be put out of the playoffs, and we did well last year. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of character on the other side too, but we just played a good 60 minute Predator game," Bouillon said.

After starting the season with an 0-2-1 record at home, the Predators have won two home games in a row. The quality of competition in those two teams is an encouraging sign for the Preds.

"We've got a good group. We won against two great teams. Probably the best team in the East in Tampa Bay, and a great team for the West in the Ducks. That's our game. Every time we play that kind of game we have a good chance to win," Bouillon said.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Shea Weber(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

3 Stars by Nashville Media:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Shea Weber(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

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