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Nick Ritchie lifts Ducks to Game 2 victory with hard shot

Scores winning goal off Predators goalie Pekka Rinne's mask from long range

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle first noticed Nick Ritchie's high-velocity wrist shot when he was playing at the junior level.

Now, the rest of the world is getting a chance to see it too.

Ritchie gave the Ducks the lead for good when he scored with a long-range wrist shot in a 5-3 victory against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Sunday.

 

[RELATED: Complete Ducks vs. Predators series coverageDucks coach Randy Carlyle pushes right buttons vs. Predators in Game 2]

 

The 21-year-old forward's goal at 17:07 of the second period made it 4-3, and Antoine Vermette sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with 46 seconds remaining.

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 at Nashville on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"Nick Ritchie's a guy that has scored a lot of goals similar to what he scored tonight," Carlyle said. "He was a shooter in junior hockey, and that's what our project is, to continue to develop him into a power forward and to have that release and that weapon that he possesses become more evident to the hockey world."

Ritchie also scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the second round against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. That wrist shot from the left faceoff circle went under goalie Cam Talbot's right arm. 

He scored his first NHL playoff goal in Game 3 of the first-round sweep of the Calgary Flames.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Ritchie rifles shot in off Rinne's mask

Ritchie's goal against the Predators came after center Ryan Getzlaf one-touched defenseman Brandon Montour's stretch pass into the Predators zone. Ritchie caught up to the puck about 5 feet off the boards in the left circle and quickly shot it off the side of goalie Pekka Rinne's mask and into the net.

"I was just trying to get the puck to the net," Ritchie said. "[Getzlaf] made a little tip pass to the middle that messed their [defense] up a little bit, and I just shot the puck to the net and it went in."

The Ducks have had success shooting high on Rinne, who came into the game with a 1.41 goals-against average and .950 save percentage in 11 starts this postseason. He gave up four goals for the first time in the playoffs. 

Jakob Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm scored high to the stick side for the Ducks in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1, and Sami Vatanen scored with a shot into the left corner in Game 2.

"He's obviously a butterfly goalie that goes down on most shots," Ritchie said of Rinne. "If you hit the right spot, it's in on most goalies these days because they're all going down, so I got lucky and got the puck up there."

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Carlyle praises team after Game 2 win

Ritchie's goals in Game 7 against Edmonton and Game 2 against Nashville each occurred after he was moved up to the top line with Getzlaf.

Ritchie and Getzlaf were joined during Game 2 by rookie Ondrej Kase, who tied the game 3-3 earlier in the second period when he scored off a rebound for his first NHL playoff goal.

Getzlaf said adjusting to new linemates hasn't been difficult, even when the change comes in the middle of a game.

"I know when these kids come up and they're going to play, they're going to go hard, so I have to get them the puck down lower," Getzlaf said. "These guys are all playing, they're all great players, they're here for a reason, so I try and work off them as best as I can and we've been getting some results."

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