ANAHEIM, Calif. – The original plan drawn up by Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is to have Viktor Fasth play during back-to-back sequences.
But Boudreau might have to re-think that after Fasth looked more than capable in his NHL debut.
The Swede recorded 19 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped David Legwand to seal a 3-2 shootout win Saturday night against the Nashville Predators.
Fasth also thwarted Mike Fisher in the shootout to defeat counterpart Pekka Rinne, who is still searching for his first win this season.
"He was just calm as a cucumber," Boudreau said. "I've never been a goalie and never want to be one, but that's the demeanor they have to have to be successful. Even in the shootout, it was like, have a cup of coffee and wait for the guy to come down. He was pretty relaxed and he made two really big saves."
Corey Perry wristed a shot glove side on Rinne in the second round as the Ducks won their first home game.
It was a double whammy for Nashville, which lost Patric Hornqvist halfway through the third after his legs got tangled with Ryan Getzlaf in the corner.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said that Hornqvist is "out indefinitely, until he's examined" with a lower-body injury.
Signed last May as Jonas Hiller's backup, Fasth is a rookie – but the Swedish Elite League Goaltender of the Year the past two seasons is 30 years old. He missed time in the fall with hip and groin injuries and received no benefit of preseason NHL games yet looked solid.
Fasth made close stops on Hornqvist and Martin Erat during a second period penalty kill and held ground in an awful period by Anaheim, which recorded no shots on goal in its first three power plays.
"I just tried to do my job," Fasth said. "The guys in front of me played incredibly good today. They helped me a lot out there, so they made it easy for me."
Because of the time missed with injury the Ducks sent Fasth to its American Hockey League affiliate to get playing time during training camp. Fasth said he was told days ago he would start.
"In reality, it was the first time I'd ever seen him play," Boudreau said. "You see them in practice, where he looks fine. But until you see the demeanor in a game in front of 17,000 people, you never know. I'm sure the more he plays like that, the more confidence he instills in the players and the coaches."
Daniel Winnik, moved up to the top line in the second period, forced a 2-2 tie at 11:12 on a backhand tap-in of Perry's pass, with Hal Gill seemingly attached to his hip. Winnik became the first player in Anaheim history to score five goals in the team's first four regular season games.
Just more than a minute earlier, Legwand swiped a backhander past Fasth. That was the end of the scoring for Nashville, which couldn't convert a Getzlaf closing-the-hand-on-the-puck penalty late in regulation.
The Predators have three shootout losses in five games. Rinne is 0-1-3. Trotz benched Craig Smith in the third period for simple ineffectiveness.
"We're generally not a high scoring team," Trotz said. "We've got to get a little more offense from the back end. Also, our power play the past two or three games here hasn't been as sharp as it needed to. We had some chances on it, but didn't get it done."
Bobby Ryan finally ended Anaheim's scoreless streak at 99:27 with a second tip of Cam Fowler's shot from the left point with 32.4 seconds left in the second to give the Ducks' life going into the third. Teemu Selanne won a puck battle with Mike Fisher to poke it up to Fowler.
The Ducks didn't do Fasth any favors by leaving him to defend a 2-on-1 fewer than two minutes into the game. Brandon Yip drove in and backhanded his own rebound home after he collected Fowler's errant pass to Bryan Allen at Nashville's blue line.
"That was pretty much a wake-up call, you know?" Fasth said. "We could have had a better start, I think. But we worked our way into the game and luckily, we got the win."
The play started, ironically, on a lost faceoff by the dot ace Paul Gaustad, who returned to the Predators lineup after a three-game absence because of an upper-body injury.