Ducks lose to Predators in shootout
After what seemed like a week off, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim finally returned to the ice tonight when they lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators in a shootout.
The line-up was exactly the same as on opening night as Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch and Jonathan Hedstrom was still out of the lineup with a sore groin. J.S. Giguere got the start in net.
The Ducks scored first when Samuel Pahlsson scored his first goal of the season off an assist from rookie Corey Perry. Perry now has points in each of his first two NHL games and is playing very well for a 20-year old. The first period was dominated by the Mighty Ducks but ended just 1-0 in favor of Anaheim.
In the second period, the Predators took control and tied the game when Yanic Perreault scored on the power play. Like the first period, the play was dominated by Nashville but they only managed one goal and the game was tied heading into the third.
Early on in the third Perreault scored again to give Nashville their first lead. That seemed to wake the Ducks up as they played very well from then on and created a lot of scoring chances. Eventually, Petr Sykora lit the lamp for his first goal of the year and the game headed to overtime tied at 2-2.
Thanks to matching penalties, the overtime started with some 3-on-3. The Ducks were gassed, though, and created very few scoring opportunities. They did a good job of keeping the Predators from scoring so we went to the shootout.
The first to shoot for the Ducks was Sergei Fedorov. He had nothing left in the tank and looked like he was going in slow motion as he approached Thomas Vokoun. His shot was stopped and it was Steve Sullivan's turn to shoot for Nashville. He tried to beat Giguere to the goalie's right but Giggy was able to stop him.
Next up was Teemu Selanne, who flew in on net and tried to go five-hole. Vokoun made the save. Marek Zidlicky was next for the Predators and he either shot wide or Giguere got it with his glove. Still no goals with just one shooter left for each team.
Andy McDonald was the surprise pick for the third Ducks shooter and he made a great move to his backhand but Vokoun was able to get just enough of it with his stick to force it wide. I say that McDonald was a surprise pick because Sykora was flying in the third period and had a shot that rang off the post in addition to his goal. I would have gone with the hot hand, but Ducks coach Randy Carlyle went with Mighty Mac.
The Predators last shooter was none other than Paul Kariya and he buried a gorgeous shot in the top of the net, beating Giguere high glove side for the win. It was vintage Kariya to wait for the goalie to drop just a little bit before firing a laser past him. Great goal, and a win for the Predators.
The Ducks still earned a point for the loss, though, and that is enough to move them into first place all by themselves in the Pacific Division. They started the season with two road games against Conference foes and came home with three of the possible four points. If they can go .500 on the road this year, I think they'll have a great chance of winning the Division.
A few other thoughts on the game tonight. I have to say again that Ryan Getzlaf is not ready for the NHL. He's not comfortable on the ice and is still timid. I'd rather see him in Portland getting top line minutes and gaining confidence, and I'm not sure what Brian Burke sees in his game that makes him keep him in the NHL. Why not dress Dustin Penner, especially since you're playing Getzlaf on the fourth line? Once Hedstrom is healed and ready to play I expect to see him dressed and Getzlaf either scratched or sent down.
The chemistry on this Ducks team, from the outside looking in, appears to be fantastic. I'm not talking about the play on the ice, either. I'm talking about the guys playing hard for each other, sticking up for each other and enjoying each other's company. I've seen many players smiling, laughing and joking around with each other both in practices and on the bench during games, and I don't remember seeing that in the past. Also, in tonight's game I saw something that I either haven't ever seen, or haven't seen in a long time...Teemu Selanne got pissed off.
It was late in the third and Petr Sykora crashed the net. Vokoun covered the puck and here came Danny Markov to cross-check him from behind. Selanne saw the whole thing and lost his mind trying to get at Markov to even the score. A scrum ensued, one which saw Scott Niedermayer manhandle Kariya, and order was restored. Seeing that, though, made me realize how willing this team is to defend each other. I can see Fedoruk, Moen or Brennan doing that, but to see Selanne do it told me that everyone on this team, not just the goons, has every other players back. That's good to see and I think it will help this team win a lot of games.
I thought Giguere played well, again, and he gave the Ducks a chance to win. At the end of the day, that's all you want out of your goalie. Hopefully he can steal a few wins during the course of the year, but if he can just keep the team in the game and give them a chance to win, I will be very pleased with him.
Finally, the style of play is great to see. The Ducks go hard after the puck and throw a lot of checks. Vitali Vishnevski is becoming a physical presence on the ice, which is what we've all been hoping for for years. He laid out Martin Erat in the neutral zone tonight and had a few other very solid checks. The Ducks are fun to watch, and not just because they are my favorite team but also because of the way they play the game.
Two down, 80 to go. The Mighty Ducks are in first place and things are good! Thanks for reading, and any comments you've had, even if it's just a note to let me know you read it, would be appreciated. Just click on the comment button below.