NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The Anaheim Mighty Ducks are doing their best to end
this season well, even if it's nowhere near as good as last year.
Sandis Ozolinsh had a power-play goal and Petr Sykora also scored, and the
Anaheim Mighty Ducks beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 Tuesday night for their
fourth victory in five games.
With the win, the defending Western Conference champs avoided being
eliminated from the playoffs _ for at least one more game.
``Unfortunately, it's a little too late,'' Anaheim captain Steve Rucchin
said. ``We want to play, but it's pretty disappointing. We're happy about the
win, but it's tough to go out here knowing we're out of the hunt. We're playing
for pride right now.''
Vaclav Prospal added a goal and an assist, Sergei Fedorov scored an
empty-netter and Rucchin had a pair of assists for Anaheim, which avoided being
swept in the four-game season series between the teams.
The Predators could take a lesson from Anaheim in their quest for the
six-year franchise's first playoff berth. Nashville remained tied with idle
Edmonton for seventh in the West and needed this win with only four home games
left. But the Predators, who tied the franchise record with their 34th victory
at Calgary on Saturday, couldn't have come out flatter.
``That's not the team we're accustomed to seeing,'' Rucchin said. ``They're
a fast and a skilled team.''
But Anaheim scored on two of its first three power plays and outshot
Nashville 18-7 in the second period alone in taking a 3-1 lead. Nashville
goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 26 shots, couldn't explain the lack of
``I wish I knew. We were sorely mistaken if we thought they were just going
to pack it in and let us win, because nobody's going to do that,'' he said.
Coach Barry Trotz tried to liven up his Predators by shortening shifts and
giving rookie Jordin Tootoo, who leads the team in penalty minutes, extra
shifts. But he isn't ready to worry yet.
``Our margin of error is nothing. It's a six-game sprint right now. That's
what it amounted to,'' he said of the loss.
The Predators had plenty of chances, but went 1-for-9 on the power play and
0-for-5 in the third period, which included a five-on-three in the final
seconds. Anaheim goalie Martin Gerber stopped Nashville's best chance when he
used his left leg to stop Steve Sullivan midway through the period.
Anaheim coach Mike Babcock had some advice for the Predators.
``They've done a great job to get themselves in this situation, and they've
just got to allow themselves to play and they'll be fine,'' Babcock said.
Prospal put the Mighty Ducks up when he scored a power-play goal on the
first shot of the game at 2:28 of the opening period. His 19th this season came
as he put back a rebound of Rucchin's long shot.
Nashville tied the game at 1 when Scott Walker got his 24th and 100th of his
career on a nearly textbook power-play goal off passes from Marek Zidlicky and
But Ozolinsh broke the tie with his fifth goal this season on a one-timer in
the high slot near the blue line midway in the second period for a 2-1 lead.
Sykora padded the lead as he took advantage of Vokoun being pulled away from
the net with 23 seconds left in the period and scored into the open cage.