For the second consecutive game the Nashville Predators stole a game in overtime against a heavily favored Western Conference opponent. The Preds played one of their more consistent games of the season in route to a 4-3 win on a Dan Hamhuis slap shot 2:17 in to the extra period.
It was a very energetic game from the start with both teams skating well. The Ducks took an early lead at 1:59 on a Brendan Morrison tip giving the Pred Nation that sinking feeling of “here we go again”. Fortunately, Ryan Jones scored on “picking up garbage” play in front of the net on a power play three minutes later.
The Predators took a lead at 11:26 on a nifty backhand by J P Dumont, which was only his third goal of the year. The Ducks tied the game at 15:05 after an incredibly questionable double penalty call at 13:35 giving them a 5 on 3 advantage.
Greg Zanon’s kneeing call was about what you would expect but Jordan Tootoo’s tripping call was a case of bad blood by the official coming on the heels of Tootoo accidentally laying out the official who was out of position and a fight between Brad May and Nick Tarnasky a couple of minutes earlier. I wasn’t clear on exactly what happened but the official who had a serious height and weight advantage grabbed Tootoo (who appeared to be doing nothing – acting?) with both hands by the jersey and shook him a few times. The Ducks announcers even commented that it was a no win for a player when and official came after them like that. Anyway, the follow-up penalty call of tripping looked to be a case were Tootoo was avoiding a hit by Perry and Perry simply tripped over Tootoo’s leg. The Zanon call should have been enough, but the Tootoo call was ridiculous.
Anyway, after making it through 90 seconds of the 5 on 3, Chris Kunitz banged one past Dan Ellis to tie the game. There was no scoring in the second period and the teams traded goals in the third. Joel Ward first deflected a shot by Shea Weber on a power play and then Ryan Getzlaf followed with a PP goal for the Ducks. The game winner was on a slap shot by Dan Hamhus on a feed by Jason Arnott.
Barry Trotz juggled his lines for the game splitting long time line mates Jason Arnott and J P Dumont. For the most part Arnott played with Fiddler and Ward while J P was paired with Jones and Legwand. Both contributed under the new pairings, Dumont with a rare goal and Arnott with an assist on the game winner in OT. Arnott also led the team with 5 shots on the way to 35 shots by each team for the night. It will be interesting to see how they line up tonight.
Normally, you would assume that Barry Trotz would have Pekka Rinne penciled in as keeper tonight but due to the critical nature of ending this trip on a positive note Ellis may get the call again. Ellis was 3-1 against the Kings last year while Rinne hasn’t made it out of the first period on the road this year surrendering seven goals early in two of the Preds road stumbles.
For the Kings, new sensation Erik Ersberg will make his sixth consecutive start after having won 4 in a row. A fifth win as a starter would be the longest streak for the Kings since Felix “The Cat” Potvin had a streak of six way back in 2001.
After a miserable 0-3 start to the teams longest road trip of the year, the Predators OT wins against the Sharks and Ducks loom large in their early season playoff quest. A win in tonight’s game across town against the Kings would be the icing on the cake to the turnaround success in the second half of this trip. The win would be important because the Preds will face an unhappy San Jose team Monday night in a rematch of last weeks 57 shot barrage by the Sharks.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass