On the second game of a five-game homestand, the Nashville Predators were looking to slow down a hot Anaheim Ducks team that had gone 9-1-0 in their last ten games. The Predators hurried out to a two goal lead, giving the crowd of 15,892 much to cheer about early and often. Costly mistakes by Nashville however, gave the Ducks multiple opportunities to get back into the game. The second period saw four goals for Anaheim and the Predators were not able to overcome the onslaught.
Less than two minutes into the game, Paul Gaustad registered his 200th career point when he took a centering feed from Gabriel Bourque to notch his seventh goal of the season. Immediately following the puck drop after the goal, Rich Clune and Patrick Maroon had quite the bout near center ice (see Clune’s comments in the video below). This completely energized the crowd that was still celebrating the first goal of the game.
Just 27 seconds after the fight, Matt Cullen dished the puck to Craig Smith on a two-on-one rush, giving Smith his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
“He’s doing all those extras things that get you extra pucks, shots, and offensive time,” said head coach Barry Trotz on Smith’s play.
Continuing their strong play in the first period, the Predators were able to kill off a Gabriel Bourque holding penalty, clearing the puck multiple times and never letting the dangerous weapons of the Ducks to set up their power play. Late in the first, Viktor Stalberg was called for high-sticking and 28 seconds later Nick Bonino was called for holding, giving the teams 1:42 of four-on-four play. Luckily for Nashville, giving Anaheim plenty of open ice did not hurt them. What started out as a thrilling first period, closed with a defensive showing by the Predators, and both teams closed out the period with six shots apiece.
The second period was where the Ducks came alive. Just 55 seconds into the period, Matt Beleskey took advantage of a Predators turnover, put the puck on Ryan Getzlaf’s stick with a drop-pass and Anaheim’s captain notched his 21st goal of the season.
At 4:36 of the second period, the Ducks were able to tie the game when Getzlaf came in on a break and fired a wrist shot past goaltender Marek Mazanec from the top of the circle. Points were on repeat for this goal as Matt Beleskey tallied another assist. Both of Anaheim’s early second period goals were scored off of what Barry Trotz called “mismanagement.”
“We just mismanaged the puck both times at the far blue line,” said Trotz. “You always hear me say those are turnovers we can’t have especially at the top line. We mismanaged the puck right at their blue line three or four times. They turned into offense and scored a couple goals off of it.”
Nashville was able to answer Getzlaf’s goal just under a minute later. Filling the net-presence role, Rich Clune was able to whack in a shot from Craig Smith, giving him his second goal of the season.
A two-minute span in the second period was a roller coaster. Less than a minute after Clune’s goal, Corey Perry netted his 25th of the season. Ryan Getzlaf was able to find Perry cherry-picking at Nashville’s blueline. Perry streaked up and shot the puck from the left dot over Mazanec’s glove.
It seemed like the action had calmed down until late in the second when Gabriel Bourque took another holding penalty at 17:07. During this time, the ageless wonder known as Teemu Selanne scored his fifth of the season off a rebound from a Patrick Maroon shot. Selanne’s goal gives him 680 for his career.
“You have to always be ready and I was playing with (Patrick Maroon) and I can read what he’s doing pretty well,” said Selanne on his goal. “Even on 5-on-5 we had some good shifts and it was just a great play.”
The Predators went in to the second intermission down 4-3; a big turnaround from such a commanding first period.
“We did it to ourselves,” explained a very frustrated Shea Weber. “We were turning over too many pucks, and like I said before they are a skilled team. They can turn transition pucks into goals and they were able to do that tonight.”
During the third period, Nashville was able to draw a penalty when Francois Beauchemin slashed Roman Josi on a breakout at 3:13. Although the Predators were not able to convert on this power play, it may have been one of the best efforts seen all season. Nashville peppered goaltender Frederik Andersen with shots and Ryan Ellis made a diving attempt to keep the puck in the zone. A bomb from Shea Weber actually beat Andersen, as the puck trickled between his legs, but was stopped before crossing the line.
Anaheim gave Nashville another opportunity to tie the game when Mathieu Perrault was called for high-sticking at 9:53. This time however, the Predators were not able to muster as many opportunities as in their previous power play. Following the power play, Nashville did put consistent pressure on the Ducks, forcing them to take their timeout at 13:05 of the third.
Even with multiple attempts and opportunities with an empty net and extra attacker, the Predators were not able to notch the game-tying goal, falling to Anaheim 4-3. This makes it the first time Nashville has lost all season when scoring three or more goals. They had previously been 17-0-3 when putting three-plus goals on the board.
Below are post game videos from Rich Clune and Barry Trotz.