Nashville Predators bounce back, drop the Ducks 5-2

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 25: Austin Watson #51 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on November 25, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 25: Austin Watson #51 of the Nashville Predators celebrates his goal against the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on November 25, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With Kyle Turris officially on IR, the power play stayed healthy and the defense suffocated the Ducks on Sunday night.

In front of another sellout crowd in Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators responded to their worst game of the season on Friday with an excellent win Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks. Austin Watson became the 4th Predators player this season to record a hat-trick, continuing his stellar play since returning to the team from suspension and now the Preds start a five game home stand with a convincing win.

The game started with the Ducks getting the first chance on the power play, but the Preds were able to kill the penalty with ease. Pekka Rinne had the glove hand working beautifully, signalling he was ready for anything the Ducks were going to throw at him. After another penalty kill went by successfully, the Predators defense looked to be in great form. Two early power plays for the Ducks  resulted in just 1 shot-on-goal.

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With 8:56 left in the period, Colton Sissons won a faceoff in the Ducks zone to Nick Bonino. Bonino took a quick shot that rebounded to Austin Watson, who got a couple whacks at the puck before putting it away for the first goal of the game. That was the highlight of the first period, heading into intermission with the Preds leading 1-0 and outshooting the Ducks 13 to 9.

Second Scuffles

Near the beginning of the 2nd period, Matt Irwin went to the box for tripping. It didn’t take long before Adam Henrique found himself open in the slot, where he fired a shot past Pekka Rinne to knot the game at one goal a side. But the Preds’ defense showed up again 3 minutes later after some hard work from Watson forced a turnover, that Sissons quickly transitioned to Bonino heading the other way. Bonino then rocketed a shot past John Gibson to put the Predators ahead 2-1.

The period sped up and down the ice, but it felt that the Predators were controlling the game. Late in the period. The Ducks’ Josh Manson went after Ryan Hartman in the Predators’ offensive zone. Hartman goaded him into the penalty, but didn’t reciprocate once Manson got a hold of him. Hartman headed to the penalty box anyway for unsportsmanlike conduct, but Manson received a double-minor for roughing and it was time for another Preds power play. Austin Watson made an incredible tip in front of Gibson for a PP goal and the score was 3-1 to the Predators.

A lazy turnover in the Preds own zone with 5.7 seconds left, led to a Ducks’ score from Ondrej Kase and the teams went into the final intermission with the score 3-2.

Nashville generated 15 shots in the 2nd to Anaheim’s four in a testament to the excellent defensive work they had been doing. Still the lazy work in the defensive zone left the game in doubt heading into the final frame.

 Final chance

Two minutes and 47 seconds into the 3rd period, Ryan Hartman drew another penalty and the Predators power play got another chance. A shot from the blue line by Filip Forsberg rebounded off of Gibson and Craig Smith made an incredible rebound goal while spinning off his defender and falling to the ground to make it 4-2 for Nashville.

A couple more penalty kills and Pekka Rinne flashing the leather to end a Ducks opportunity off another poor turnover in the defensive zone kept the two goal lead in tact.

The Ducks pulled John Gibson and after a short while, Austin Watson got to a loose puck and completed his hat-trick with the empty net goal, sealing the game.

The Preds would end the night allowing just 19 shots-on-goal, going two for five on the power play, and holding the Ducks to one power play goal in five chances. Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino did amazing work in the faceoff dot, winning 74% and 67% of their faceoff draws, respectively.

Also of note, was Kevin Fiala getting 14:29 of ice-time and collecting an assist and 4 shots on goal. The Predators would greatly appreciate the Fiala of old, if he’s starting to break out of the slump he’s been in and this game could signal good things.

The Predators now look ahead to four more games in Nashville, with Colorado coming to Smashville on Tuesday, first.

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3 Stars of the Game

3rd Star – Colton Sissons – 2 assists

2nd Star – Nick Bonino – 1 goal, 1 assist

1st Star – Austin Watson – 3 goals (4 goals and 6 points since returning from suspension)