With a few familiar faces back in the lineup, the Ducks looked like an entirely different team. They hardly looked like a club that had gone winless in the previous four games, or the one that managed just three goals in their past three contests. Instead, they resembled a team with confidence and poise, and tonight earned a well-deserved 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Derek Grant returned after a 12-game absence, and his impact was felt in all facets. The veteran center stabilized the fourth line and did what he's done so well this season - deliver on the penalty kill. It was his shorthanded goal in the third period that gave the Ducks some breathing room, as it made it 4-1 with 12 minutes left on the clock.
"It's always fun to get back," said Grant, who recorded a team-high five shots on goal and went 8-for-12 (67%) on the draw. "The time you sit out seems a lot longer than when you're playing. I was excited to get back. I thought we did a great job tonight. It's a stepping stone for us in the right direction. We're looking to build off this."
Jakob Silfverberg also returned to the lineup after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. Entering tonight's game, Silfverberg led the Ducks in goals (15) and ranked second in points (28). He slotted on right wing alongside Adam Henrique and La Mirada, California native Chase De Leo, who made his season debut tonight.
Normally a house of horrors, Bridgestone Arena was held in relative silence save for a Viktor Arvidsson goal with 6:04 remaining in the opening frame and a Mikael Granlund shorthanded tally late in the third. It was here earlier this season where the Ducks suffered one of their worst losses of the season, a 6-1 blowout on Oct. 22. With the win tonight, the Ducks improved to 42-26-8 all-time record vs. the Predators, including a 14-18-5 mark at Bridgestone Arena.
"We came out and executed the way we wanted to, especially in the first period," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who recorded two assists to give him a team-best 32 points on the season. "We got things going the way we wanted to. We played all night long. That's a big part of it."
The Ducks opened the scoring from an unlikely source when Josh Manson ended a 77-game drought at the 10:01 mark of the first period with a wrist shot that went top shelf on Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. Manson, who crept backdoor, buried a seam pass from Ondrej Kase, who spotted the burly blueliner through traffic. Manson also tacked on an assist tonight, giving him his first multi-point performance since Oct. 16 vs. Buffalo (two assists).
Video: ANA@NSH: Manson goes top shelf to open scoring
The Ducks doubled their lead 2:21 later when Henrique tapped in a puck that had snuck behind Saros on Rickard Rakell's initial one-timer from the left faceoff dot. The goal came on the power play, and marked Henrique's 15th of the season, placing him in a tie with Silfverberg for the team lead.
Video: ANA@NSH: Henrique pushes home power-play goal
Holding a 2-1 lead, the Ducks converted at the 9:52 mark of the middle frame when Rakell pounced on a juicy rebound at the bottom of the left faceoff dot. The play started when Getzlaf carried the puck into the zone with speed. Backing off the Predators defense - and with his back towards the goal - Getzlaf passed it to Cam Fowler, whose shot deflected back to Getzlaf, who sent a backhander on goal. Saros saved the initial shot, but couldn't get back in time to deny Rakell.
Video: ANA@NSH: Rakell cleans up Getzlaf's rebound
Grant made it 4-1 midway through the third when he raced in on a breakaway and tucked a backhander through the five hole for his third career shorthanded goal (all scored this season). It was Grant's 10th goal of the season, two shy of his career high (12) set in 2017-18 (66 games).
Video: ANA@NSH: Grant nets backhander for breakaway SHG
"That was a great play on the wall from Rowns [Carter Rowney], who worked hard all night," said Getzlaf. "It was nice to see G get rewarded there."
The Predators made it 4-2 with 4:35 left in regulation when Granlund scored shorthanded for his eighth goal of the season.
John Gibson recorded his 14th victory (14-19-3) with a 33-save performance. Saros (6-8-4) turned aside 23 shots in the loss for Nashville.
The Ducks will finish off their four-game road trip tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"Any time you have a break, you always want to end on a win," said Grant. "Especially with how things have been going for us, that would be huge. This one is out of the way."