The Anaheim Ducks might be the Nashville Predators’ toughest rivals. That thought is stronger now after their latest meeting.
A desperate need for two points comes at just the right time as the Nashville Predators snag a hard-fought win over the Ducks. A rematch of the Western Conference Finals didn’t disappoint with a game that went to the final 60 seconds.
The Nashville Predators end their short losing streak at two games, and now will finish up their California road trip with the LA Kings. Not an easy task. It makes this win even more critical as the Kings will be another challenging opponent, especially coming off of a back-to-back.
Nashville Predators come out blazing in period
We’ve been waiting for a strong start from the Predators, and it’s not happening as much as we would like. Coming into this matchup, there was a reason to be negative. A two-game losing streak and losing four of your last five will do that.
The penalties were rampant right out of the gate. However, the Predators couldn’t capitalize on the first two power play opportunities. Not the way you want to start as the Ducks gave away two chances.
This is when Roman Josi took over. He sets up Scott Hartnell‘s goal to open the scoring on a beautiful assist, and then tops that off with a snipe of a goal before the period ended. Josi is still grossly underrated on a national level, and this game shows his value. He’s the main reason the Nashville Predators got some insurance going into the first intermission. We knew the Ducks wouldn’t go down easy, and they didn’t.
Ducks make a push in second period
A two-goal lead is always nice, but you can’t get comfortable. That’s even more true when you’re facing a bitter rival. Of course, the Ducks didn’t let this be a snoozer. But not until the Predators padded their lead even more after Matt Irwin‘s first goal of the season.
Irwin put the puck into traffic in front of the net and the goal trickled in. Great job by him to create a scoring chance out of nothing. Those bounces aren’t seeming to go the Predators way lately, but still a great goal from him.
This is when the Ducks fought back relentlessly. The tick-tack-toe goal that made it 3-1 was beautifully orchestrated by the Ducks and slammed home by Antoine Vermette. At this point, there’s no reason to worry. The Predators are clearly dominating the flow of the game, and then Viktor Arvidsson scores on a gorgeous set-up from Mattias Ekholm. All is good, right?
That dreaded goal given up right before the end of the period happened on a Ducks goal off of a faceoff win. This is just a great shot from Hampus Lindholm on the power play. Doubt starts to creep in a bit going into the 2nd intermission, even with a two-goal lead.
Pekka Rinne Takes Over in 3rd Period
You need solid goaltending to get you over the finish line sometimes. That’s what Rinne did for the Predators to get a much-needed two points. Yes, he gave up three goals and wasn’t exactly sharp in the second period. With that said, his saves to take the Predators to victory makes you excited as a fan. You need that to get out of slumps in a difficult division.
The Ducks would tally a goal with over 12 minutes left in the game, bringing the score to 4-3. You start panicking a bit at this point. There’s still time for the Predators to give up the tying goal and lose in another shootout. This is when Rinne shut the door.
A huge sigh of relief finally came with P.K. Subban‘s empty net goal, worthy of a top-ten highlight on Sportscenter. Both of Subban’s goals this season are on empty netters. With this win, the Predators get to 14 points and a four-way tie in the division for third place.
Chad’s Three Stars
Third Star: Austin Watson
This guy laid everything out there to help the Predators survive the final onslaught. His blocked shot most likely saved the tying goal late in the game when the Ducks had the extra attacker out. He finishes with a plus-3 rating and one assist.
Second Star: Pekka Rinne
He may have given up three goals, but they were all tough saves. He rose to the occasion in the third period with critical saves, and finishes with a 92 save percentage. Tallying an assist isn’t too shabby, either. We’re all a little paranoid about how much gas Rinne has left in the tank, but tonight shows he has plenty.
First Star: Roman Josi
You can’t help but be excited to see the new captain Josi flourishing in his new role. He took over this game right from the start. His assist to Hartnell allowed the Predators to play with a lead and settle down in a hostile environment. His wicked, pinpoint goal to put the Predators up 2-0 speaks for itself. Check it out from NHL.com:
He finishes with seven shots on goal and now has eight points over his last eight games. He’s playing like a true captain right now.
Next Game: The Nashville Predators go to L.A. to take on the Kings, who are 1st-place in the Pacific Division. Coverage starts at 9 P.M. Central on Fox Sports Tennessee.