Playing without Bobby Ryan due to a league-imposed suspension, and without their best defensive game plan for reasons unknown, the Ducks needed to steal one to win Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Sunday in Nashville.
Despite trailing 2-0 late in the second period, and 3-2 early in the third, they nearly did.
Mike Fisher’s goal at 10:21 of the third period held up as the game-winner, and the Predators’ 4-3 victory put the Ducks in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.
Teemu Selanne scored goals 30 seconds apart late in the second period to erase the 2-0 deficit. With the Ducks trailing 3-2 early in the third period, Matt Beleskey re-directed a Saku Koivu shot past Pekka Rinne (13 saves) to tie the game again.
It was nearly enough for the Ducks to pull out the road win despite being outshot 37-16 and despite the absence of Ryan, who was suspended for Games 3 and 4 of the series for stepping on Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum.
Ray Emery (33 saves) held his weight against the barrage of shots, but some defensive-zone lapses by the Ducks did him in — Martin Erat took advantage of a poor clearing attempt by Lubomir Visnovsky on the game’s first goal; Ryan Getzlaf mishandled the puck just before Jordin Tootoo put it in the Ducks’ net; David Legwand and Fisher snuck behind the defense to score the Preds’ final two goals on Emery’s back door.
The NHL has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Ducks forward Bobby Ryan for 2 p.m. He faces possible discipline for stomping on the foot of Nashville Predators defenseman (and Long Beach native) Jonathon Blum with 3:30 left in the third period of the Ducks’ 5-3 win Friday night in Game 2.
3:02 p.m. update: Ryan was suspended two games by the league Saturday afternoon, meaning he will miss Games 3 and 4 and be eligible to return for Game 5 in Anaheim next Friday.
He was far from singularly responsible for the Ducks’ loss Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series with Nashville. But as the captain went — three giveaways, only one shot, and a minus-1 rating — so went the team, whose home-ice advantage was squandered only one game into the series.
Perhaps Getzlaf was merely stating the obvious on Friday morning when he said “we worked so hard for a month, month and a half just to get in – you always run that risk of a little bit of a letdown when you feel that you accomplished something.”
Consider it a lesson learned.
Getzlaf and linemate Corey Perry had a goal and two assists, Bobby Ryan had a pair of goals, and the Ducks evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece with a 5-3 win over the Predators in Game 3. The series resumes Sunday in Nashville.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who was so masterful as to silence the home crowd at times in Game 1, heard 17,174 at Honda Center chanting his name in mock derision at one point Friday.
Count on Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle making more adjustments in Game 2 than his Nashville counterpart, Barry Trotz. That’s the expectation, at least, in light of the Predators’ 4-1 win in Game 1.
The first change figures to be in goal. Ray Emery was the first of the Ducks’ three goalies — four, if you include Igor Bobkov’s late cameo — to leave the ice at the morning skate Friday. Emery’s last playoff game was in this same building on June 6, 2007, when the Ducks beat Emery’s Ottawa Senators in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup.
There could be more changes in store for the Ducks, but Carlyle declined to say who would be coming out or going into the lineup, if anyone.
Francois Beauchemin was the only Ducks player who did not participate in practice Thursday, but head coach Randy Carlyle said the defenseman would be available for Game 2 tomorrow at Honda Center.
“Beauch is resting, what we call a maintenance day. He will skate tomorrow morning and he’s available to us tomorrow night,” Carlyle said.
Beauchemin is dealing with a lower-body injury, the result of blocking a shot during the regular season. “It’s just taking a little more time to heal,” he said. “I’ve been taking medicine for it, and painkillers and stuff. It’s good on game days but on practice days it’s tough to get out there and force it.”
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: Continue reading “Nashville 4, Ducks 1.” »
At his post-skate presser, Randy Carlyle at once declined to name his starter and explained why he doesn’t: “I’m sure that Barry Trotz and his staff have dissected what all three of our goalies have done. They probably had to do more work because we know who’s going to play for Nashville.”
Brandon McMillan is definitely skating at right wing. I think I might have mistakenly penciled him down on the left side earlier, maybe because that’s the only position other than center he’s played in his first NHL season. Switching a productive two-way center to the right side in favor of another rookie (Bonino) who hasn’t scored a point in the NHL all season is a bit unexpected, assuming Beleskey, Bonino and McMillan are in the lineup tonight against Nashville.
Ray Emery took part in his first full practice Tuesday, one of three Ducks goalies on the ice along with Dan Ellis and Jonas Hiller, but couldn’t commit to being ready for Game 1 Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.
“I’m not sure. We’ll see how it goes when we get there,” said Emery, who has not played since leaving last Wednesday’s game against San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. “I’m just happy with the way practice went today and we’ll go from there.”
Since Hiller has only played in three games since the All-Star Break, that leaves Dan Ellis as the likely starter by default. As usual Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t say who would get the call, but Ellis is the safe choice given his health and solid performances in wins over the Kings last Friday and Saturday.
If there was one general theme to the Ducks’ discussion of Nashville Monday, it was toughness. The Predators, who finished second in the Central Division, aren’t the flashiest team in the NHL playoffs, but the Ducks aren’t allowing themselves to be fooled by that.
“Their whole team is very underrated and can’t underestimate them at all,” Teemu Selanne said. “Respect that and do our job the best we can. It’s going to be a tough series for sure.
“We have to be patient, they have a great system. They are what they are so we have to make sure we don’t give them any turnovers and play smart. I expect they’ll be low-scoring games and we have to play very tight.”
The Predators receiving the most praise Monday were goaltender Pekka Rinne and his goals-against average of 2.12 along with their No. 1 defensive pair of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Ducks goaltender Dan Ellis, who played for the Predators from 2007-10, was effusive in his praise of the trio and the franchise in general.