ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Nashville Predators awoke from their weekend-long slumber just in time to salvage their Southern California swing.
Nashville, which turned in a dismal third period against Los Angeles on Saturday night, was quiet for the first 40 minutes against Anaheim but came alive with a two-goal third for a 3-1 victory at the Honda Center on Sunday night.
Patric Hornqvist scored at 1:19 and Mike Fisher swiped in a loose puck at 10:27 as Nashville moved ahead of Detroit for fourth place in the Western Conference. The teams each have 92 points, but the Predators have more regulation and overtime wins.
Backup Anders Lindback made 30 saves for his first win since Dec.1.
"We didn't feel like we played very well the first two periods and we knew with a good third we'd get ourselves back in and give ourselves a chance," Mike Fisher said. "Lindback was playing real well for us. It was a much better third. It showed some of our character that we didn't give up and we found a way to win."
Lindback kept Nashville in the game in the first two periods with an impressive left point-blank left pad save on Jason Blake and a breakaway stop of Kyle Palmieri in the second period. He stopped Palmieri in front again in the third.
"That was a game changer," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of the stop on Blake. "They get the second goal, I think they probably win the hockey game. He made that save and kept us in it. In the third period, we really beared down and brought it."
The Predators haven't given Lindback much margin of error. They have scored only 13 goals in his seven losses. Sunday went a long way toward his confidence.
"It's always nice to win, of course," Lindback said. "I want to prove the guys that I can play. I want to earn the chance to play more games and help the team as much as I can."
Said Trotz: "We've given him some tough assignments this year -- not playing for three or four weeks at a time and giving him a top team like the (New York) Rangers or Washington … this was a tough one because I didn't think we were real sharp."
Hornqvist slipped behind defenseman Francois Beauchemin to take a feed from David Legwand and roof a shot past Jonas Hiller at 1:19 of the third. Fisher finished off a nice play by Martin Erat, who carried the puck behind Anaheim's net and set up Ryan Suter for a shot on net that produced the loose puck.
Anaheim scored a rare shorthanded goal – its fourth of the season – as Devante Smith-Pelly put in a rolling puck to finish a 2-on-1 with Ryan Getzlaf with Bobby Ryan serving a high-sticking penalty.
Fittingly, the goal came in Smith-Pelly's 40th game. The team said earlier this season that the promising 19-year-old would remain up past the 40-game mark, which triggers the first year of an entry-level contract.
"(Getzlaf) is one of the best playmakers in the League," Smith-Pelly said. "I'm sure everyone on our bench knew he was going to slide it over. I just waited for it."
That was mainly the positive news for Anaheim, which has basically been reduced to spoiler. Nashville is a daunting task, though. Including the playoffs, Nashville has beaten Anaheim six straight times and 11 of the past 14.
"They're a team that's built for the playoffs," Bobby Ryan said. "They play a full 60 minutes. They got a great back end. They got three lines that can hurt you and that top line with Erat and Fisher and (Sergei) Kostitsyn moves the puck well. They're highly effective throughout the ice.
"We know our record against them going back to the playoffs. We know they are a good team and have beaten us handily a few times. You have to wash it away at some point and get past it."
Ryan couldn't get past the officiating. He was called for three minor penalties and criticized the officials afterward. But it didn't seem to matter in the overall picture for the Ducks.
Asked if he is getting a sense that his team is running out of steam, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said, "If you look at the effort tonight – I think they played to win and they played hard. I think there's an awful lot of pride and character in that room, so I don't think you're going to see that."
Paul Gaustad missed a second straight game with an upper body injury. Anaheim scratched Toni Lydman with an upper-body injury.