The Anaheim Ducks
' latest comeback effort came up a goal short.
One night after tying Dallas in the final seconds of regulation and winning in overtime, the Ducks spotted Nashville a 5-1 lead midway through the third period, then scored three goals before running out of time as the Predators escaped with a 5-4 victory on Thursday night.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored two first-period goals, and Nick Spaling, Jordin Tootoo and David Legwand also scored for Nashville, which has won five straight games. But the final score was about all coach Barry Trotz was pleased with.
"We got the two points," Trotz said. "It might have been the biggest game of the year for us. We had a chance to go head-to-head against a team that was chasing us. It was a four-point game. It was a regulation win. We can control our actions, but we weren't as detailed as we needed to be. I'm happy with the two points, but I'm not happy with the way we mismanaged the third period."
Legwand's shorthanded goal 9:29 into the third period made it 5-1 and triggered an eruption from the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. But the Ducks got a pair of 5-on-3 goals from Teemu Selanne and a fluke goal by Corey Perry with 27 seconds left to make it close.
"It starts there," Trotz said. "You look at the power play with Teemu Selanne, who has scored about a million goals in this League, Ryan Getzlaf, Perry, Saku Koivu and Lubomir Visnovsky -- they are going to score. That's a pretty good unit."
Perry had the Ducks' other goal and is now second in the NHL with 42. But the Ducks, who've gotten four game-tying goals by Selanne in the final three minutes of regulation in the past six weeks, couldn't get another puck past Pekka Rinne, who made 34 saves.
Tootoo gave the Predators a 4-1 lead when his shot bounced off the leg pads of Dan Ellis and into the net with 1:40 left in the middle period.
"It's been a while since I scored a goal, so it was nice to get the monkey off my back," Tootoo said. "It's great to contribute offensively, but it is a team effort."
Legwand bounced a shorthanded goal off the far post 9:29 into the third period for a four-goal lead. But Joel Ward was penalized on the same play, and Anaheim scored 10 seconds later as Selanne roofed a shot just under the crossbar. He scored again at 15:24, during another two-man advantage, when his shot bounced off the stick of Nashville's Ryan Suter and into the net.
Suter was in the wrong spot again when accidentally kicked Perry's pass through the slot under the crossbar and into the net.
"Suter got two goals," said Trotz who also complimented Suter's kicking ability. "I wish he had used his hand either to catch it or move it. On Selanne's goal, Suter stuck his arm out and it hit his glove and misdirected."
For the second game in a row, the Predators opened the scoring. At 2:04 of the first period Patric Hornqvist took a shot from the left side of the net. The puck bounced off Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller and bounced around in front of the goal. Kostitsyn tapped it into the open side of the net as Hiller was slow to recover after stopping Hornqvist's shot.
Spaling gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 11:18, picking up the carom of Jonathon Blum's shot off the end boards and beating Hiller from close range. Kostitsyn scored his second goal of the night 19 seconds later, redirecting Hornqvist's shot from above the right circle past Hiller.
Hiller, who hadn't played since Feb. 13 while dealing with symptoms of vertigo, stopped just four of seven shots before Ellis relieved him.
Perry got one goal back at 16:01, finishing off a pass from Bobby Ryan.
In the end, the Ducks' comeback wasn't enough to make up for their bad start.
"We battled and battled and battled," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Specifically, it was our start that killed us. You can't give up three goals in an important game like this."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report