Mara's late goal lifts Ducks past Preds
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:08 AM
The Anaheim Ducks
needed every last second to beat the Nashville Predators
on Sunday night, but Paul Mara made sure the home crowd headed for the exits smiling.
Mara scored his first goal in a Ducks uniform with 1.7 seconds left in the third period as Anaheim escaped with a wild 5-4 win against the Preds at the Honda Center. It was also Mara's first goal since February of 2009 -- a span of 78 regular-season games.
"I saw there was nine seconds left, so I said, 'Hey, we're going to go for it,'" Mara said. "It was great to do it at home. It's been a long time since I've scored a goal, so it feels good."
scored two goals -- including his 700th NHL point -- for the Ducks, who finished their homestand with a perfect 3-0 record. Teemu Selanne had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, while Lubomir Visnovsky
also chipped in with a goal. Jonas Hiller
made 20 saves.
, Cody Franson, and Cal O'Reilly
each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who have lost five in a row for the first time since January. Steve Sullivan also scored for Nashville. Rookie goalie Anders Lindback
made 32 saves in the loss.
The Ducks didn't get their first power-play opportunity until Shane O'Brien was sent off for holding Visnovsky with 11:55 left. They took a 4-3 lead 2 minutes later when Koivu redirected Toni Lydman
's shot from the top of the left circle past Lindback for his fifth goal of the season and 700th NHL point.
O'Reilly tied it with 3:47 to go, converting Franson's centering pass from the right corner.
Visnovsky, who spent a good portion of the game jumping into the play when the Ducks had the puck in the Nashville zone, beat Lindback with a screened 25-foot wrist shot from the slot just 49 seconds into the third period for a 3-2 lead after George Parros
tried to jam the puck inside the left post.
"That's my style … I try to help the forwards," Visnovsky said. "If I have a chance, I jump on the rush and try to score a goal. That last period was a little bit crazy. It was good for the fans. It was exciting and a great atmosphere. We got the two points."
But Nashville pulled even when Franson, whose main objective was to keep the puck in the Anaheim zone, threw it toward the net and it deflected off a Ducks player before tricking in off Hiller's pads with 13:45 left.
started the play that led to the winning goal, getting the puck to Bobby Ryan
in the left circle before Ryan spotted Mara all alone in the slot. He beat Lindback to the stick side while Nashville's Marcel Goc trailed the play.
Koivu, whose multi-goal game was the 23rd of his career, gave Anaheim a 2-1 edge at 10:49 of the first period on a perfect setup in front by Selanne, but the opportunistic Predators converted a sloppy turnover by Ryan into the tying goal at 17:16.
"It's nice to get some goals and some offensive results for myself and for our line," Koivu said. "Points are so important for us at this point. It was an exciting game for the fans."
Hornqvist intercepted Ryan's attempted clearing pass inside the blue line and quickly headmanned it to Sullivan, who sped between Visnovsky and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler
and beat Hiller with a short backhander that ended his nine-game goal drought and gave him five for the season.
"It was an ugly game, certainly not one we want to put in the archives, that's for sure." Ryan said. "We have to do a better job in front of Hillsy and a better job managing the puck through the neutral zone. It's something we'll focus on."
Lindback, making his fifth start following a four-game stretch in which Pekka Rinne
allowed 16 goals, fell behind 1-0 just 52 seconds after the opening faceoff. Selanne banged home a rebound of Ryan's slap shot from the top of the left circle for his seventh of the season and 613th of his career.
The Ducks' lead lasted less than 2 minutes, as Hornqvist parked himself at the edge of the crease and tipped in O'Reilly's 45-foot wrist shot from the slot after it changed direction off Visnovsky's leg. It was the fifth goal this season for Hornqvist, who signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract extension in August after leading the Predators with 30 goals in 2009-10.
"Two points is two points … we're not going to lament any other part of it," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It was one of those games that seemed like we had to work for every inch. Every time we got a lead, they came back and showed their resiliency as a hockey club. We sure kept the fans in the building, that's for sure."
Nashville's Barry Trotz coached his 915th regular-season game, breaking a tie with Montreal's Toe Blake for the fifth-most with one team behind Al Arbour (New York Islanders), Billy Reay (Chicago), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo) and Jack Adams (Detroit).
Trotz, in his 12th season with the Predators, is the only coach they've ever had. The record for most consecutive seasons by an NHL coach at the beginning of a team's history is held by Lester Patrick, who guided the New York Rangers through their first 13 seasons (1926-27 to 1938-39).
"It was a really tough loss," Trotz said. "I thought we did a lot of good things. I like the resiliency we showed, but obviously I didn't like the outcome. We kept fighting back, but every time you catch up, they score again. It can be disheartening."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.