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Ducks snap slide by beating Predators

by John Manasso

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have to be glad they won't see the Anaheim Ducks' two Canadian Olympians at Bridgestone Arena for the remainder of this season.

Ryan Getzlaf had two goals and Corey Perry scored once Saturday in a 5-2 victory against the Predators, giving the Ducks' big guns eight points in two appearances during the past month. Not coincidentally, the Ducks won both games.

Getzlaf, the Ducks' captain, also had an assist on Saturday to go with his two goals and an assist from the teams' Jan. 9 meeting. Perry had a goal in that earlier matchup. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Ducks.

Getzlaf has a career-high 29 goals, and his 67 points are second in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We don't play here anymore, eh?" Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "No, he must like this building. Every player has certain buildings they like and that they have success in and this must be his. When he's on, he's a pretty dominant force in this League and he's just such a big-bodied guy that's so strong and he plays all situations for us. We quite frankly really need him, and every team that's successful needs somebody that's really good being successful and he's our guy."

The Ducks broke a 2-2 tie at 4:51 of the third period when Emerson Stem deflected Hampus Lindholm's point shot into the net. Mathieu Perreault added some insurance 4-2 at 8:04 when Daniel Winnik stole the puck from Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis and found Perreault alone in front of the net. Getzlaf hit the empty net with 36 seconds left.

Earlier in the day, Boudreau had said he did not want his team to go into the NHL's two-week break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on a sour note. Anaheim (41-14-5), owner of the League's top record, was mired in one of its worst stretches of the season; the Ducks had dropped three in a row and were 1-4-0 in their previous five games.

"Sometimes that's what you need," Boudreau said of a couple of the fluky goals his team scored. "Sometimes to end a losing streak, you get some breaks. You might be getting outplayed but we played a real good game against [the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 loss on Wednesday] and got nothing for it. This is a little bit of a reward and it usually equals out."

Nashville (25-24-10) had a streak of points in four straight games (2-0-2) ended. Predators coach Barry Trotz said coming out of the Olympic break the Predators will be in a race with the Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets and others for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Nashville is four points out of a playoff spot but recently had been 10 points out.

Trotz said he likes how the Predators do not quit.

"We've been chipping away and getting points and never giving up because we've been down in games," Trotz said. "Just didn't have enough early and [Ducks goalie Jonas] Hiller sort of had the answer for us early."

Viktor Stalberg, who had missed the five previous games with an upper-body injury, scored his first goal since Jan. 14 give Nashville a 1-0 lead. Victor Bartley's point shot was deflected in front by Simon Moser and Stalberg cashed the rebound at 11:35 of the first period. The point was the first of Moser's career.

The Ducks tied the game with 1:11 left in the period when Nashville defenseman Roman Josi deflected Getzlaf's harmless-looking shot from the right boards into the net. Goalie Carter Hutton was moving to his right and could not recover when Josi put his stick blade on the high shot, accidentally causing it to trickle over the goal line.

"Their big guys stepped up and scored goals," Trotz said. "Getzlaf and Perry are world-class forwards. They are big loads. That's a big line with [Dustin] Penner on it. I thought we handled them fairly well but they got a couple of the freakish goals. I guess when things are going well for you as a hockey team they go really well. They're a good hockey team. They found a way to win."

Anaheim took advantage of a double minor to Mike Fisher for high-sticking Winnik to go ahead 2-1 at 11:45 of the second period. Nashville killed off the first two minutes, but for the second time in the game a Predators' defenseman knocked the puck into his own goal. This time it was Bartley, sprawling to the ice to cut off the passing lane, who kicked in a goalmouth pass from Perry that resulted in Perry's 30th goal.

"That's why you work so hard," Perry said. "You work hard and you create your own bounces and that's what we did tonight. It helped us along the way."

But Nashville converted its third power play of the game at 1:05 of the third period, an advantage that began late in the second period when Luca Sbisa went off for hooking. With Anaheim overplaying Nashville's point men, Shea Weber and Josi, Fisher was left open in the slot. David Legwand feathered a pass to Fisher who roofed the puck for his 16th goal.

Nashville started the game strong, outshooting Anaheim 14-7 in the first period, but the Predators could not convert two power-play opportunities and helped to keep his team in the game with his solid play. Hiller made 36 saves on Saturday. Boudreau said he thought Hiller could have won any of his past three games, which were all losses.

"We knew they were going to be coming," Hiller said of the first period. "I think they had a lot of shots. They almost throw everything at the net, which is sometimes easier as a goalie to kind of get into it. I think we're a little lucky on our first goal but we'll take it right now."

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