Despite an incredible comeback effort by the Nashville Predators, the Anaheim Ducks evened the playoff series at one with a 5-3 victory at the Honda Center on Friday night.
Anaheim's powerful offensive scorers led the way with Bobby Ryan scoring two goals and Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf each scoring one. Perry and Getzlaf each had two assists for three point nights.
The Predators goals came from Shea Weber, Patric Hornqvist, and Joel Ward. Weber also had an assist and Sergei Kostitsyn has two assist for two point games. Hornqvist set a team record with nine shots in a playoff game.
Ray Emery battled the puck all night and did not look fully recovered from his lower body injury but managed to stop 31 of 34 Predator shots. Pekka Rinne played well in spite of allowing four goals on 27 shots.
Anaheim was two for five on the power play, both coming in the first six minutes of the game. Nashville was two for six on the man-advantage and had eleven shots.
The game started as the last one ended. Ryan Getzlaf had a great scoring chance on Rinne 20 seconds into the game. At the first stoppage in play, there was a new scrum in the corner after Cody Franson and Todd Marchant exchanged words.
Thing went downhill quickly for the Predators. Marty Erat slashed Corey Perry at 3:30. Forty-eight seconds later, Shane O'Brien slashed Ryan Getzlaf to give the Ducks 1:12 of five on three advantage. Coach Randy Carlyle did not like the looks of the play and called his time out at 4:55 in the first period.
After play resumed, with six seconds left in the two man advantage Perry took a cross crease pass from Saku Koivu and placed it in the open side of the net for a 1-0 Ducks lead. Thirty-six seconds later, on the ensuing power play, Selanne took a pass from Cam Fowler and put it past Rinne for a 2-0 lead.
The Predators got their turn on the power play at 8:51 when Lubomir Visnovsky slashed Mike Fisher.The Preds got a shot but could not convert on the man-advantage.
Nashville put the Ducks back on the man-advantage at 11:50 when David Legwand was called for tripping Niick Bonino. The Preds successfully killed their first penalty of the night and did not allow a shot.
The parade of penalties continued when Toni Lydman slammed Sergei Kostitsyn at 14:28 and was called for interference. Shea Weber scored a goal for the Predators at 15:08 but it was waived off when Legwand got caught up with Emery and was called for goalie interference and was sent to the box.
During the ensuing four on four, Visnovsky had to be hauled off the ice when he was decked by team mate Francois Beauchemin. Visnovsky did return for the second period.
The period ended with the shots being tied at 12 and the Predators leading the Corsi 19-18. The Ducks were leading 10-1 in shots after their second goal but the Predators played much better for the remainder of the period.
The second period started with more shenanigans by the Ducks when George Parros tied up Jerred Smithson and then started a scrap that Smithson wanted no part of. A five on five scrum only resulted in a minor roughing to Smithson and a double-minor to Parros.
The Preds got plenty of pressure on Emery on power play and finally scored when Kostitsyn fired wide of the net and Weber picked up the rebound and put it past Emery to make it 2-1.
The Ducks quickly reclaimed their two goal lead when the Ducks caught the Preds on a change and Getzlaf fired a long shot from the blue line and Ryan crashed the net and flipped the Rinne rebound into the net to make it 3-1.
Ryan and Ryan Suter got tangled up at 11:21 and Ryan was called for interference for getting in an extra shove. The Predators got plenty of pressure on Emery with three shots and Patric Hornqvist was pummeled repeatedly in front of the net but no penalties were accessed.
Shortly after five on five resumed at 13:48, Blake Geoffrion was called for interference to Selanne. The Ducks did not score on the power play but did score at 15:54 before the Preds got to full strength when Perry sent the puck into the crease from behind the net and Getzlaff gave the Ducks a 4-1 lead.
The Predators actually had plenty of chances in the second period and out shot the Ducks 13-10 and led the Corsi 28-14.
The third period started with another penalty at 31 seconds when Luca Sbisa was called for roughing Hornqvist. The Predators converted on the man advantage when Weber found Hornqvist in front of the net allowing him to to pull the Preds within two at 2-1.
Brad Winchester caught Smithson in the face with his stick behind the Nashville net to put the Preds back on the power play at 2:53. The Predators had several chances and officially two shots but no goal.
The Predators pulled within a goal at 10:17 when Erat found Ward open in the slot and fed him the puck from behind the net and Ward was able to put it past Emery to make the score 4-3.
The Predators put intense pressure on Emery and the Ducks for the final six minutes of the game and had plenty of chances in a truly valiant effort. Ryan put an end to Nashville's comeback with 53 seconds remaining with an empty net goal to make the final score 5-3.
The Predators out shot the Ducks 9-6 in the final period and led the Corsi 18-8.
Marty Erat was really banged around all night and appeared to to have lost four front upper teeth in the middle of the third period when he was hit with Sheldon Brookbank's stick knob.
The Predators and their fans should be encouraged by the outstanding effort where the Preds outplayed the Ducks for two and a half periods but could never quite catch up.
The Predators will stay in Anaheim for the night and will travel back home to Nashville on Saturday morning. Game three will be at a special 5 p.m.start on Sunday at the Bridgestone Arena.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass