With 52 seconds left in the game and a puck having just crossed into an empty Ducks net, Corey Perry slammed his stick over his own goal frame, the logical reaction to a typical Nashville Predators victory.
Wednesday’s was one of those. The Ducks outshot their opponent 41-24 but had only a Saku Koivu goal – not a thing of beauty in its own right – to show for it.
The Preds never trailed in ending Anaheim’s three-game winning streak, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Jerred Smithson and Patric Hornqvist. After Koivu’s goal halved the Ducks’ deficit at 11:46 of the third, empty-net goals by Sergei Kostitsyn and Shea Weber provided the final score.
“The puck was doing funny things for us,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after the game, “and in some of the situations they beat us for 1-on-1 battles with the puck. That was really the telltale story of the game, where they won more little puck battles 1-on-1 where we should have come up with the puck.”
Nashville won its third straight game by the same score, though Anaheim played better than a three-goal difference would indicate. A few of Pekka Rinne’s 40 saves were extraordinary; he also had help from a goal frame that robbed Matt Beleskey and Lubomir Visnovsky in the third period.
Second-chance shots were few and far between, part of Nashville’s blue-collar M.O. for as long as the team has existed.
Even though he didn’t score, Maxim Lapierre had one of the Ducks’ better efforts in his first game since arriving from Montreal. Playing 15:46 while centering the first and third lines, Lapierre put four shots on goal and was one of the few black-clad players consistently charging on net.
Another player making his 2011 debut, Dan Sexton, had the primary assist on Koivu’s goal. He started the game on a third line with Lapierre and Joffrey Lupul and ended it on the second line with Koivu and Selanne.
It was one of those efforts that probably gets a team more than one goal on most nights, but didn’t Wednesday. These things happen.
A few more notes:
Jason Blake (shoulder) didn’t play. Brandon McMillan (17:11 TOI/2 SOG)
started out in Blake’s place on the second line but had switched to the
third line by the third period, replaced by Sexton (13:05 TOI/5 SOG).
Matt Beleskey (12:46/3 SOG) also got a demotion late in the game, from the top line to the third/fourth.
Bobby Ryan went 3-4 in the faceoff circle but was mostly deferring to
Lapierre (5-6) by the third period. It should be interesting to see how
Carlyle juggles the lines Friday against Sammy Pahlsson (but probably not Mike Commodore) and the Columbus