Friday, February 6, 2009

Predators Roll over Ducks (full article)

Pekka Rinne and Ryan Jones Postgame

Barry Trotz Postgame Comments

The Nashville Predators continued their rejuvenated play with a 4-2 victory of the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night at the Sommet Center. The Predators clearly out skated the tougher, more talented Anaheim squad at both ends of the ice, frustrating the Ducks especially in the third Period when they were held to only six shots as the hustling Predator defense seemed to be in the way every time they tried to make a play.

The Predators scored first on a goal by Ryan Jones and never trailed. The Preds other goals were added by Jason Arnott and Marty Erat, and completed with an empty netter by Vern Fiddler near the end of the contest. Anaheim's only goals were provided by winger Corey Perry.

Rookie Ryan Jones had his best game since his recall from Milwaukee, scoring a goal, firing three shots and playing a complete game with a lot of jump. After the game Jones said, “when I got the recall I told myself that I would do anything and everything to stay here.” He also indicated that he was less focused on “not making mistakes” than he was earlier in the season.

After his “unofficial” promotion to the number one goalie slot, Pekka Rinne continued his stellar play in net stopping 28 of 30 Anaheim shots.

The game stared with both teams skating hard with nonstop up and down the ice action. The Predators opened the scoring at the 11:19 mark in the first period on a goal by Ryan Jones that actually caromed off an Anaheim player at an odd angle to end up in the goal behind goalie J S Giguere.

The goal seemed to spark the Predators who had been out skating the Ducks up to that point. The Ducks responded at 18:16 on a goal by Corey Perry. Each side finished the period with eleven shots.

The Predators started the second period with a quick rebound goal at the 1:08 mark by Captain Jason Arnott. The Ducks were visibly frustrated which led to a roughing call against Steve Montador a minute later. The Preds were unable to take advantage of the man advantage.

The Preds extended their lead at 11:22 in the second on a rebound goal by Marty Erat. Immediately after the goal, Anaheim's Ryan Carter paired off in a bout with Preds D-man Kevin Klein and bit off more than he could chew as Klein had to be stopped by the officials. After the game Barry Trotz said “When the Ducks go two down you pretty much expect something like that.”

The Ducks came back to close the gap to 3-2 with Corey Perry's second marker at 18:54, seconds after the Preds had killed off a Dan Hamhuis holding penalty. The Ducks out shot the Preds 13-11 during the second stanza.

Anaheim's first shot of the third period at the 1:19 mark was the save of the game by Pekka Rinne. He stopped a point blank wrister by Bobby Ryan as Ryan Jones was knocked into the net. The Ducks were clearly frustrated by the tenacious Predator defense through the middle of the period. Giguere kept the game close at the three-minute mark on a point blank save.

The Ducks frustration rose to a crescendo when Ryan Getzlaf was called for high sticking with 2:45 remaining in the contest. Play returned to even strength with 1:48 left when Jason Arnott was called for holding. Anaheim then pulled their goalie that led to a Vern Fiddler empty net goal with 1:11 left in the game capping the Predators third straight victory.

Surprisingly, the game was relatively penalty free, with only three per side.. The Predators knew they would face a chippy team that would try to take advantage of the absence of Jordan Tootoo (hand) and Wade Belak (shoulder). Other than the Klein-Carter match there was little evidence that the traditionally heavily penalized Ducks were able to play their usual style of game against the Predators.

Both teams came into the game having won three of four since the all-star break. The win gave the Preds 51 points bringing them within 4 points of the final playoff position in the tightly bunched Western Conference, where four points separates sixth and fourteenth place.

The Predators left immediately after Thursday’s game and headed to Minnesota where they play the Wild Friday night at 7:00 PM. Dan Ellis is expected to start in goal against the Wild. The Preds will continue to be without Tootoo and Belak against a team that has roughed up the Preds in the past.

The Predators then travel to Dallas for a game Sunday against the surging Stars before returning home Tuesday night for a game against the rival Detroit Red Wings for the first game in a four game home stand.

The weekend trip is a special one for Predator players as this is the annual "Father's Weekend" trip where the players’ fathers travel with the team and get to experience life on the road with their sons.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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