The Anaheim Ducks took care of the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-0 on Tuesday night in the heart of the music city. The Ducks were led by an unlikely hero, right winger Chris Stewart. He picked up a goal and an assist in tonight’s contest.
You were able to tell at the immediate start of the game that the Predators fans were amped up and ready to go. The fans stuck to their 14-year tradition dating back to 2002 and ended up throwing not one, not two, but THREE huge catfish on the ice. So the Bridgestone Arena was all ready to go, but unfortunately, the result was not what they were hoping for. While the Ducks, on the other hand, were looking to build off of their outstanding 23-11-7 record away from the Honda Center (their home rink) during the regular season.
The Anaheim Ducks decided to move away from their young goaltender John Gibson after his underperformances in Games 1 and 2. Ducks skipper Bruce Boudreau turned to his usual number 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, who hasn’t played since the season finale on April 10th, to help backstop the Ducks and hope to propel them to a Game 3 win.
The first scoring chance went to Ducks young center Rickard Rakell just 5 minutes into the game with a quick snapshot from the right dot. Although, Predators superstar goalie Pekka Rinne was sublime and snared the puck out of the air. Nashville then counters with a great chance just a minute later with Pred’s left winger Colin Wilson driving to the slot and ripping a shot, but Andersen was up to the task and made his save look even easier.
The first goal of the game came with 9:55 remaining in the first period. Predator’s youngster Anthony Bitetto committed a horrendous turnover in his own defensive end. Ducks winger Chris Stewart picked up the loose puck, dropped it off to Shawn Horcoff, who then drew two Nashville defenders to him and spotted Duck’s left winger Jamie McGinn open on the right side and slid a pass over to him and he hammered it home to open up the scoring. It was McGinn’s 3rd career playoff goal and first of the 2016 playoffs.
Then a minute later at 8:13 remaining in the period Pred’s right winger James Neal took the game’s first penalty by catching Anaheim defenseman Simon Despres up high with his stick. This sent the Ducks to the power play where they looked to build on their 1-0 lead but only had one shot and never gained any great scoring chances.
Simon Despres looked to add to his team’s lead himself when he was spotted by Ducks vet Ryan Getzlaf with a beauty of a backhand pass from the corner. Although, Rinne stood tall and stoned his one-timer to keep the ducks lead at one. Also to end the period, Despres took down Nashville’s Mike Fisher with 41 seconds left in the first to earn a two-minute spot in the sin bin. This sent the Predators to their first PP of the game.
Nashville opened up the second period still on the power play looking to tie the game early. Unfortunately, Anaheim had an awesome penalty kill and only gave up 3 weak shots. Nashville would then go back on the PP with Jamie McGinn tripping Predators left winger Filip Forsberg just eight minutes later, but just like before, it did not amount to anything.
Just 3:37 later the Ducks add another goal, courtesy of Ducks center Rickard Rakell. Ducks winger Corey Perry fed a nice pass to defenseman Sami Vatanen who let a wrist shot go from the point that found Rakell in front for a beautiful tip just over Rinne’s pad. This was also Rakell’s 3rd career playoff goal and first of his 2016 playoff campaign.
Believe it or not,then 5:37 later Anaheim tacked on another goal to push its lead to 3-0. This time, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, after receiving a pass from defenseman Hampus Lindholm, drove right down main street, making moves left and right and pulled the puck into the corner going untouched. From there he spotted a streaking Christ Stewart in the slot and hit him with a superb pass. Stewart corralled the pass, threw a quick shot that was swiftly turned away from Rinne with a pad save. Then, immediately got his own rebound and lifted a backhand shot right over Rinne’s blocker for his first goal of the playoffs.
With 1:53 remaining in the second Duck’s D-man Cam Fowler took an interference penalty on Pred’s center Mike Ribeiro. This sent the Predator’s on the 3rd PP of the game, but just like the previous two resulted in nothing special.
The third period had little to no action at all, a couple shots here and there but nothing big. Ducks right winger Jakob Silfverberg slashed Mike Ribero sending the Pred’s to their 4th PP just 29 seconds into the third period. Everyone in the building and all the fans begged and pleaded for a goal or just some momentum going their team’s way but never got it. The only exciting play on this power play was Ryan Johansen beating Simon Despres behind the net, then played the puck in front but Andersen had that play covered up. The Pred’s last PP came just five minutes later with the Ducks picking up a bench minor for too many men. This, just like the other power plays, resulted in nothing special again. They simply need to produce on the man advantage if the want to win the series and win the Cup.
With 8:26 remaining in the game Predators winger Calle Jarnkrok slashed Jamie McGinn’s stick and broke it right in half to cap off a terrible night for all Predators players. This sent the Ducks on their second and last PP of the game, nothing came from it. Nashville would get their last good scoring chance with six minutes remaining with a shot coming from the point from Pred’s D-man Ryan Ellis firing a low hard wrister from the point which was calmly saved by Andersen capping off a big night from the Dane.
The Predators would then pull Pekka Rinne with 2:19 remaining in the game in hopes of a miracle comeback, but clearly it did not work at all. On the other hand, Duck’s goalie Frederik Andersen had a huge night! He stopped all 27 shots Nashville threw at him for his second career playoff shutout. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 18 out of 21 shots and finished with an awful .857%
The Predators outshot the Ducks (27-21) lead in faceoffs (33-30) and giveaways (14-3). While the Ducks lead in hits (29-27) penalty minutes (10-4) and blocked shots (15-11). Anaheim went 0/2 on the power play and Nashville went for a dreadful 0/5.
It was also a special night for Anaheim Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf as he played in his 100th career playoff game. He now holds the record for most playoff games played by a Duck after passing long-time Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin.
This was a huge win for the Ducks because they avoid going down 3-0 and cut Nashville’s lead down to 2 games to 1 (2-1). These teams will be back at it on Thursday night back here in Nashville, Tennesee at 8 pm EST. The game can be caught on NHLN-US, FX-CA, or FS-TN.