Ducks snap steak with win vs. Predators
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When you are in your first slump of the season, as the Anaheim Ducks were prior to Saturday night, you will take the goals any way you can get them.
Anaheim started with fertilizer tallies and then scored prettier goals after that, scoring three goals in the third period to snap a tie and dump the Nashville Predators 5-2 at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.
“We needed a couple of (crappy) goals like that,” defenseman Hampus Lindholm said.
Lindholm notched two assists, including the lead one on a go-ahead tally by left winger Emerson Etem’s tip-in goal at 4:51 of the third, as the Ducks (41-14-5) snapped a three-game losing streak and assured themselves of carrying the NHL’s best record into a 20-day break for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
“Now we don’t have to sit around for 20 days and hear you guys remind us that we’ve lost four in a row,” quipped Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Ducks entered the game third in the NHL in goals (191), but had scored just two times in home losses against Dallas, Columbus and Chicago. However, they used Nashville defensemen as foils to overcome an early 1-0 deficit.
After left winger Viktor Stalberg’s rebound tally broke the scoring seal at 11:35 of the first period, Anaheim evened the score at 18:49 when center Ryan Getzlaf banked a shot from the right corner off Roman Josi and past goaltender Carter Hutton.
Right winger Corey Perry made it 2-1 at 11:45 of the second period with a weirder goal. His backhander from the left side caromed off the skate of defenseman Victor Bartley and by Hutton, Perry’s 30th goal of the season and 250th of his career.
“Any time you get a garbage goal like that,” Perry said, “it takes a load off your back. At the same time, you create your own chances. You go out there and you play the way we’re supposed to, the goals are going to come.”
They came often in the third period after Predators center Mike Fisher’s 16th tied the score at 1:05 and energized the crowd of 17,139.
Lindholm threw a wrist shot at Hutton from just inside the blue line and Etem deflected it into the net for his seventh goal. Just over three minutes later, the Ducks doubled their lead when center Mathieu Perreault cashed in a giveaway by defenseman Ryan Ellis with his 12th goal for a 4-2 advantage at 8:04.
Getzlaf tacked on his second goal of the night and 29th of the year into an empty net at 19:24.
“If we bottle that effort up, we’ll win most nights,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “I think we had 33 scoring chances for the game. Hiller was the difference, particularly in the first period.”
Hiller (25-9-4), who will man the goal for Team Switzerland in Sochi, notched 36 saves for his first win in two weeks.
“I think we have the best Swiss team I have ever played for,” he said. “I think anything is possible. If I can steal a game, that would be awesome. I‘m really excited.”
Meanwhile, the Predators (25-24-10) remained four points out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot heading into a 19-day layoff. They’ll resume action with a five-game homestand and a positive feeling that they can jump over four teams.
“Every game is going to be a playoff game,” said Josi, who will join Hiller on Team Switzerland. “We just have to make a push. We have been playing some good hockey lately and we are in the playoff race again.”
Hutton (13-9-4) finished with 19 saves.
NOTES: Anaheim scratched RW Teemu Selanne to give him a few days off before he plays for his native Finland in the Sochi Olympics. ... Nashville C Matt Cullen, who missed four games with an upper-body injury before returning on Thursday night in Minnesota, sat out this one after leaving the morning skate early. The team recalled C Colton Sissons from Milwaukee of the AHL. ... Ducks C Nick Bonino and D Mark Fistric missed their fourth and third straight games, respectively, with lower-body injuries. ... Predators C Simon Moser picked up his first NHL point with an assist on the team’s first goal Saturday night.