A quick start and three goals were not enough to knock off the NHL’s top team, as the Nashville Predators lost to the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3.
When playing the No. 1 ranked team in the NHL, mistakes have to be minimized and opportunities converted; something Nashville couldn’t do enough of tonight.
“They’re a good team,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “I was looking before the game, and they’re like 17-2-3 in their last 20-something games; just something ridiculous like that. [...] They’re fast; they force a lot of pressure on you. Goaltending has been good for them and they’re great on special teams too. They’ve got a lot going for them.”
The Predators fell to 14-1-1 when leading after the first and 17-1-3 when scoring three or more goals.
The Predators connected for two goals in 30 seconds in the first 2:22 of the game. But the Ducks remained unfazed.
“The one thing about our group is that we’ve been there, so we never come in here thinking we’re out of a hockey game,” Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf said. “We never had the doubt in our mind that we can’t win a hockey game. We just know we’ve got to go out and play.”
The Ducks closed the gap quickly in the second period with Ryan Getzlaf notching two goals in the period’s first five minutes to tie the game.
Predators forward Viktor Stalberg echoed his coach’s sentiments following the loss: “They’re a good team,” Stalberg said. “We did some good things, but we kept turning pucks over. I’ve got to give credit to them. The Ducks are really good at back-checking and putting pressure on guys. They steal a lot of pucks; that’s where we lost the game tonight.”
The home team answered the Ducks quick goals with one of their own in the second, as Rich Clune lit the lamp for the second time this season.
Despite losing a tie game less than a minute after they tied it at two, the Ducks remained relentless in their attack.
“They just didn’t quit,” Stalberg said. “When we get a couple leads like that, it’s just too bad we couldn’t hold on to them against them.”
Another Ducks goal followed Clune’s tally 55 seconds after the Preds had retaken the lead. Corey Perry blew a wrist shot by Preds goalie Marek Mazanec tying the game at three.
“Two of their goals in the second came off turnovers,” Trotz said. “You hear me saying that we can’t have turnovers in that zone around the blue lines and we did that tonight.”
Toward the end of the second, Predators forward Gabriel Bourque took his second holding penalty of the night and in the offensive zone.
“When we manage a game the right way, I don’t think there’s a team we can’t play with in the NHL,” Trotz explained. “But I really didn’t like our penalties tonight, holding calls and stuff up ice, you can’t do that against a great team like the [Ducks].”
The Duck’s strong special team’s play made an appearance as Teemu Selanne notched the game-winning goal at the 18:52 mark of the second period.
Anaheim tallied four times in the second period and held the Predators silent in the third for the 4-3 victory. Turnovers and mistakes were the difference for the team from Music City as they couldn’t keep up with the class of the NHL for 60 minutes.
The Preds home stand continues on Saturday night with a visit from forward Mike Fisher’s former team, the Ottawa Senators. An early start time in Nashville as the puck drops at 6 pm (CST)