Saturday, December 10, 2011

Preds show good team effort in win over Anaheim

The Nashville Predators got their first home victory since November 17 as they defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a 3-2 score in front of a rowdy sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville controlled the play throughout the first period and didn't allow an Anaheim shot on goal for the first 14 minutes of the game. Colin Wilson appeared to score a goal on the power play in the first period, but the goal was waved off due to an apparent kicking motion. The play went under review, but the call on the ice was confirmed after the review. It was a tough play to try and decipher, but it didn't look like Wilson ever made a kicking motion.

Anaheim got on the board just 38 seconds into the second period when Andrew Gordon beat Pekka Rinne to the short side on a quick wrist shot. Minutes later, Mike Fisher would appear to give the Predators another goal. However, his goal was also waved off. The official had already blown the whistle before Fisher knocked it in the net from under the glove of Anaheim goaltender Dan Ellis.

"We didn't let it rattle us. We thought maybe the first one should have been a goal. I can see an argument for the second one, but on the first one he was going to the net and he didn't make any kicking motion. He was just turning his skate. But it didn't really phase us too much. We stuck with the game plan and played a solid game," said Nashville forward Jerred Smithson.

Nashville was able finally get on the board in the second period when Nick Spaling converted a one-timer on a great pass from Wilson.

The Predators would take the lead at 2:33 of the third period when Roman Josi fired a shot on the power play that beat Ellis for his first career NHL goal. It was an impressive slapshot that blew right past Ellis, who was being screened in front. Josi has been up with Nashville since the Detroit game on November 26, and seems to be finding his rhythm lately.

"He's looked good. It seems like in training camps he's gotten a few nicks, bumps and bruises and wasn't able to really compete. He looked pretty good tonight. You can see how he sees the ice and how he can move. He's still a young guy and he's still learning the game, but there's no better place to be than watching Ryan Suter and Shea Weber out there and letting those guys lead by example. He looked great tonight. He's got a great shot from the point as we all saw, and I'm really happy for him," Smithson said.

Jordin Tootoo put the Predators up 3-1 when he fired a remarkably quick wrist shot past Ellis from the faceoff circle on the rush. That goal was extremely important for the Predators because Francois Beauchemin brought Anaheim within one goal with 6:36 remaining in regulation. However, Nashville would tighten up defensively and hold on for the 3-2 win.

This game was another good example of the high level of intensity that seems to be becoming routine for contests between these two clubs. It's almost like a playoff game each time these teams square off.

"They are a good hockey club. They compete and battle hard. Their skill guys are their go-to guys that work and get into the hard areas. They are hard to play against, not only offensively but physically. We knew that going in. We knew we were going to have to have a good team effort. That's what the playoffs does. It starts those rivalries. It just seems like every game is a continuation of the playoffs. It's a lot of fun to be out there, that's for sure," Smithson said.

Predators fans at Bridgestone Arena finally were able to leave the building on a happy note, which is something that Nashville will hope to continue going down the stretch.

"It's been a while. It finally feels pretty good. We did some great things tonight by just going to the net, establishing our forecheck and putting pressure on their D. That's something we wanted to do. For the most part, we were disciplined and kept them off of the power play. We all know what happens when they get on the power play and get rolling, so I just thought it was a great job by everybody from the fourth line right up to the go-to guys," Smithson said.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:

1. Jordin Tootoo(NSH)
2. Colin Wilson(NSH)
3. Roman Josi(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Jordin Tootoo(NSH)
2. Nick Spaling(NSH)
3. Roman Josi(NSH)

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