Thursday, March 19, 2009

Predators Hang on for Much Needed Point

The Nashville Predators fell to the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on an power play goal by Teemu Selanne
34 seconds into overtime. The game was a back and forth affair where five of the seven goals were scored on the man advantage.

The Predators started slowly and allowed the Ducks to score first, 4:19 into the game on a goal by Corey Perry. Joel Ward followed with his first of two goals on the power play at 10:09 to leave the score tied 1-1 at the end of the period.

J P Dumont scored early in the second on another PP goal to put the Preds in the lead. Scotty Nichol was called for tripping at 9:27 on a play where Chris Pronger actually man-handled Nichol and looked to be the one that should have gotten tagged with the penalty. Andrew Ebbett made the most of the situation, scoring at 11:13 to tie the game 2-2, which is where it stood for the rest of the period.

Joel Ward was whistled for an uncharacteristic tripping call at 10:58 in the third, setting up Bobby Ryan’s 24th goal on the power play at 11:38. Things were looking grim for the Predators until Joel Ward deflected a shot by Shea Weber into the net with 2:45 remaining to force the game into overtime, somewhat atoning for the earlier penalty. The Ducks fans were not pleased with the call which was reviewed for a high stick allegation.

As the game wound down, Vern Fiddler was called for tripping Chris Pronger near the net at 19:11 to put the Ducks on the man advantage through the end of regulation. The Preds were able to hold on through the period to gain a point in the standings before yielding to Selanne in the extra period.

The game was a very uneven affair with both teams looking good and bad at times throughout the game. It was difficult to tell if it was playoff type intensity causing the differences or if both teams were out of sync at times. The one thing the Predators did not want to do was spend time in the box and give the Ducks opportunity on the power play. Unfortunately, undisciplined penalties were the Pred’s undoing.

The line of Ward, Dumont and Fiddler played an excellent game offensively, racking up three goals and an assist. Ryan Suter extended his point streak with three assists while Shea Weber added two helpers.

I know it sounds like a broken record but Pekka Rinne played another solid game in spite of taking the loss. Three of the Duck goals were on the power play and there were simply more open players around the net than our third ranked penalty kill should have allowed.

Surprisingly, the only fight between of the game was really hard to even call a fight as Mike Brown and Scotty Nichol mixed it up for a few seconds before Brown basically fell on top of Nichol after they swapped a couple of swipes at each other.

This was a game that both teams really needed to win to stay in the Western Conference playoff race. Reflecting on the game, it could either be a half full or half empty glass of water type situation. While Pred fans and players really wanted the two points, the reality is that we did get one and head in to San Jose Thursday night with five of the six points available so far on this trip already in hand.

Barry Trotz announced before the game that injured centers Jason Arnott and Radek Bonk would not play in San Jose. Wade Belak had already been sent home prior to the game. Patric Hornqvist had been recalled before the came and was basically a non factor in his return to the team.

With the point, the Predators moved back into seventh place with 76 points. With eleven games remaining, they will probably need seven wins to get in the playoffs. One advantage the Preds do have is that they have more pure wins, which is the first tie-breaker, than the teams chasing them. As close as it has been, there’s no reason to believe that it won’t come down to a tiebreaker when all is said and done.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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