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Ducks beat Nashville 5-3 to even series

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The search for Anaheim's big line lasted all of one day.

After being almost invisible in the series opener, the Ducks' star trio of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry combined for four goals and five assists as Anaheim defeated Nashville 5-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Friday night at Honda Center.

The series is tied 1-1; Game 3 is Sunday night in Nashville. But Friday's outcome bodes well for Anaheim:  The Ducks have gone on to win a series 10 out of 11 times in which they have prevailed in Game 2. The exception came in the 2009 conference semifinals, when they fell to Detroit in the waning minutes of Game 7.

Perhaps more important is that the Ducks will head to Nashville with a psychological boost after they put four pucks past Pekka Rinne.

"Tonight we got some fortunate bounces and we're obviously happy to capitalize," Ryan said.

"It makes us feel like he's a little vulnerable back there at least because he's been such a wall for them all season. Hopefully the flood gates are open maybe."

Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry were a combined minus-5 with one point in Game 1, but they scored four of Anaheim's five goals in Game 2. Ryan capped the big night by hitting the empty net to seal it after Nashville pulled to 4-3 in the third.

The trio's effort was more impressive considering they were matched up against Nashville's top defensive pair of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter for much of the night.

"I think we embrace that hugely," Ryan said. "I think we want that opportunity. We know that they want to play against us. We're three big guys, so we're going to have the opportunity to wear them down a little bit over the course of seven games. They got the better of us in Game 1. Tonight the roles were reversed. We've got to carry this momentum as a line."

Anaheim also got a quality game from goalie Ray Emery, who earned his first postseason victory since he backstopped Ottawa to a win in Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, coincidentally against Anaheim.

Emery looked sharp at the start and served notice to Nashville with a front-door stop on Patric Hornqvist in the second. Two of Nashville's goals came on the power play, and he withstood four other disadvantages.

Coach Randy Carlyle said starting Emery, who is getting over a lower-body injury, was "the logical choice" given his improved health and solid play.

Emery has gone 8-2 with Anaheim since he returned to the NHL from a career-threatening hip injury that cost him more than a full year.

"At Christmastime I never expected to play in a playoff game," Emery said. "I'm really appreciative for the opportunity. I just really want to make the most of it."

The game seemed to turn in the second after Nashville pulled to 2-1 on Weber's second goal of the series, a power-play shot over Emery's shoulder from the lower left circle.

Nashville was caught in a line change when Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin sent a long stretch pass to Getzlaf. The captain hit a charging Ryan, who put the puck past a sprawled Rinne at 7:12 for a 3-1 lead.

"I thought that was a big turning point," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said after his team failed in its attempt to take a 2-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history.

Anaheim put the Predators in a 4-1 hole at 15:54 when Perry spun away from Kevin Klein behind the net and fed Getzlaf in front for a quick shot past Rinne just as Blake Geoffrion's interference penalty expired.

But the Predators made it close in the third. Hornqvist scored 1:30 into the period on a power play, and Joel Ward converted Martin Erat's pass at 10:17 to cut the deficit to one goal. However, the Predators managed only sporadic pressure the rest of the way.

Anaheim capitalized on early penalties to Erat and Shane O'Brien to grab a quick 2-0 lead.

Perry, the NHL regular-season leader with 50 goals, put Anaheim ahead at 5:24 during a 5-on-3 power play when buried a cross-ice pass from Saku Koivu for his first goal of the postseason. With the Ducks still on the power play, Teemu Selanne picked up a deflected pass in the slot and snapped a shot past Rinne at 6:02.

It was uncharacteristic opening for Nashville, which committed the second-fewest penalties in the NHL in the regular season.

"We did this to ourselves," Suter said. "We got out of position, took some bad penalties and it ended up costing us."

The Predators had a goal negated at 15:08 when David Legwand was called for goaltender interference against Emery just as a shot entered the net.

Trotz said he was happy his team's 5-on-5 play and cited the undisciplined start as a point of emphasis for Game 3.

"If we don't take the penalties we did tonight we probably are talking a whole different story here," he said.

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