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Recap: Ducks Let Third Period Lead Slip Away, Win It in Shootout

by Adam Brady @AdamJBrady /

ANAHEIM -- The Captain made sure another squandered third-period lead didn't bury the Ducks tonight.

Ryan Getzlaf buried a forehand in the fifth round of the shootout to give Anaheim a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators in front of a raucous crowd at Honda Center.

It helped erase the damage done by the Ducks carrying a two-goal lead into the third period only to see Nashville tie the game and send it to overtime. It was the second straight game Anaheim let a third-period lead get away, previously suffering a 4-2 defeat in Arizona three days ago.

This time, goalie John Gibson helped secure the victory, making a lunging skate save on a Rocco Grimaldi breakaway in the opening minute of overtime, as the puck just barely missed crossing the stripe. He then made four straight stops in the shootout, setting the stage for Getzlaf, who heard a loud ovation before he even picked up the puck at center ice, which got louder when his shot dented the net.

Video: NSH@ANA: Getzlaf nets shootout winner to lift Ducks

"I said after the shootout, 'That's what our captain is for,'" said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. "He was ready to shoot. In 5-on-5, he's just a big presence out there. When he's on, it's certainly fun to watch."

Anaheim poured it on with three goals in a span of 4:48 in the second period to take a two-goal lead. Two of those came on the man advantage, sweet relief for a Ducks team ranked 29th in the league in power play percentage entering the game.

"The power play, to get that going a bit was good," said Adam Henrique, who had two goals tonight. "We were shooting the puck. We were skating. We were on the puck. We were trying to get pucks in traffic, both 5-on-5 and on the power play. It was good to get the two-goal lead. We still had to do a little more in the third period to shut that down."

But the Ducks let the lead get away in the third when the Predators came roaring back. Nashville cut the lead to just a goal on Craig Smith's second of the game, a tap-in off a rebound that made it 4-3 Anaheim early in the third. They tied it soon afterward on the rush off a pretty Roman Josi pass that Grimaldi lifted under the crossbar.

The Ducks dramatically outshot the Predators for most of the game, compiling a 21-4 shot advantage at one point and 47-26 for the game. Oddly enough, Anaheim improved to 3-12-3 this season when outshooting an opponent.

The game got off to a rollicking start when Anaheim's Nicolas Deslauriers and Nashville's Austin Watson dropping the mitts right off the opening faceoff, with Deslauriers getting in the most shots in that tangle.

"I loved the way we started the game," Getzlaf said. "Desi comes out and gets us going on a Sunday. Our group responded properly and shot everything we saw in the first period. We built our game through there. In this league, it's going to be hard to win giving up four goals, but we found a way tonight." 

The Ducks had a number of prime chances in the opening 12 minutes squashed by Preds goalie Juuse Saros, but Anaheim finally broke through when Henrique picked up his own rebound and buried a blind backhander for his 100th point as a Duck.

Video: NSH@ANA: Henrique fires backhander past Saros

Watson evened the score with less than a minute left, deftly tipping through a Colin Blackwell point shot.

A Cam Fowler interference penalty that earned the wrath of the Honda Center faithful led to a Nashville power play goal by Smith on a redirect from the slot that made it 2-1 Preds.

Fowler ultimately tied it back up with 7 1/2 minutes left in the period sniping a shot top shelf from the left wing for his ninth of the year.

Video: NSH@ANA: Fowler picks the corner on Saros

And the Ducks went back in front a couple minutes later on the power play as Daniel Sprong chipped in a rebound from the doorstep. It was the first NHL goal for Sprong since last year's regular season finale. Sprong's latest recall from the AHL's San Diego Gulls came yesterday.

Video: NSH@ANA: Sprong cleans up rebound for power-play goal

The one-goal cushion became two on yet another power play that Henrique finished off with a lucky carom off the inside of his skate after a nice Sam Steel pass to the top of the crease.

Video: NSH@ANA: Henrique uses skate to put home PPG

"We caught a team that played last night," Eakins said. "We wanted to jump on them early, and we did. Still, you come out of that first period and it's an even ballgame. That's what we need to do on a nightly basis. If it's going to take us twice as many chances as the other team to score, then that's what we need to create."

The Ducks will look to make it two straight wins when they take on Columbus on Tuesday at Honda Center.

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