You can pick apart where the Ducks’ playoff opener went wrong: A Matt Beleskey penalty here, a Pekka Rinne save there, a missed assignment or two or three.
Corey Perry, always a man of few words, hit the nail on the head: “We just didn’t have it.”
As it turns out, the Ducks’ late-game magic is predicated on confidence. By the middle of the middle period they had none — confidence or magic — thanks to an outstanding performance by Rinne and the Predators’ disciplined ‘D’.
Even the 5-on-3 power play that preceded Teemu Selanne’s goal in the third period was a haphazard hodgepodge of starts and stops. Fortunately for the Ducks, he and Saku Koivu got it together in time to ruin the shutout.
But Rinne’s intimidation factor remained intact.
“We played really solid defensively and our strength is penalty killing,” said the 6-foot-5 goaltender, who finished with 27 saves. “We did a good job again tonight. We played big, we played physical in our own zone and tried to limit our turnovers. On the other hand, when they turned the puck over, we executed and scored some huge goals and got the momentum going for us. We’ll enjoy this game for a bit and try to get it done in the next game.”
Check out the game details, and a variety of reasons for the Ducks’ letdown from players and coaches, in tomorrow’s editions. Some notes and observations that won’t make the paper:
Shea Weber, who scored the Predators’ first goal, and defensive partner Ryan Suter were masterful against the Ducks’ top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan/Brad Winchester/Matt Beleskey. Randy Carlyle couldn’t do much to avoid the two defensemen; his solution seemed to be to give more ice time to the Masterton Line, led by Teemu Selanne’s 21:09 time on ice. That was more than any Ducks forward.
Contrary to the way the lines were shaping up in the morning, Nick Bonino was a healthy scratch, along with Andreas Lilja, Andy Sutton, Kyle Chipchura and Dan Sexton. It’s hard to say what look Carlyle was going for with his third line because there was plenty of shuffling. Winchester, Todd Marchant and George Parros started out as the de facto third line, but it got a little messy after the first period.
A closer look at the Ducks’ 15 giveaways revealed a big problem: Ten of the 15 came from players who usually play high, away from the net — Lubomir Visnovsky (4), Cam Fowler (3) and Getzlaf (3).
Fowler played a lot — 23:37, just behind Francois Beauchemin (23:47) for the team lead — and Carlyle rated Fowler’s performance in his playoff debut as “OK.”
Ellis accepted full responsibility for a performance in which he allowed four goals, matching the most he’s allowed in a Ducks uniform. “You always take it on yourself,” he said.
Weber’s slapshot beats the best goalies in the world, and Steve Sullivan was only open for a breakaway because Beauchemin and Luca Sbisa couldn’t close fast enough on Sullivan or the puck after a dump-in by Cody Franson. The two Mike Fisher goals, however, were tough to excuse. “You’ve got to respect that (shot),” Ellis said. “I think I have to play that shot more head-on, as opposed to worrying about the pass, trust that the D-man will take the pass and focus more on the shot.”