Chris Kunitz posted a goal and three assists and Teemu Selanne scored twice to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators Wednesday night at the Honda Center. Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all 21 Predators shots he faced, but it was a solid all-around defensive effort by Anaheim that stymied Nashville.
The loss drops the Predators' record to 17-7-3 this season. The team hits the ice again tomorrow night in Los Angeles for a meeting with the Kings. Game time is 9:30 p.m. CT. The match will be broadcast in Nashville on FSN South and SportsRadio 560 AM.
The Predators were successful at drawing penalties in the first two periods Wednesday--earning five power-play opportunities--but were unable to capitalize on a game total of six chances with the man advantage. Anaheim led 2-0 entering the final period and tacked on two power-play tallies in the final frame to finish the night 2-for-5. The Ducks outshot Nashville 32-21.
Anaheim's first goal came off a 2-on-2 break on which Andy McDonald attempted to lead Selanne with a pass. Predators defenseman Shea Weber tried to bat the puck out of mid-air with his glove but inadvertently sent it into Selanne's path. Weber's maneuver also slowed him, allowing Selanne to move by him and angle in toward the net from the left side. Selanne's forehand shot high to the far side made it 1-0 at 19:03 of the first period.
An odd bounce midway through the second period nearly saw the puck squirt by Giguere on a dump-in by Nashville, but Giguere recovered and sent the puck to defenseman Chris Pronger to his left. Pronger delivered a long up-ice pass to Kunitz at the left end of the far blue line, and Kunitz in turn fed Ryan Getzlaf who had slipped past the Nashville defense. Getzlaf's deke to the forehand froze Mason and allowed him to easily backhand a shot over the stretching goalie to make it 2-0 at 9:43 of Period 2.
Forward Dustin Penner's drive to the net with just over eight and a half minutes gone in the third forced Predators defenseman Greg Zanon to take a tripping penalty. Just over a minute later, Nashville's four penalty killers got caught converging on a 50/50 puck along the right wall of their zone. Kunitz found the handle and slipped a pass to Selanne, who stood all alone in the slot. Selanne pulled the puck to his backhand and lifted it over Mason to make it 3-0 at 9:53.
Anaheim scored the game's final goal at 15:04, with Predators winger Paul Kariya sitting in the penalty box for holding. Selanne was stopped on a shot from the right side by Mason, who stood tight to the post, but Selanne got his own rebound and curled behind the net. He emerged on the left side, Mason went down to protect against a possible shot, and Selanne sent the puck through the top of the crease. Kunitz saw the play develop from the right side of the goal and swooped in to fire the loose puck into the gaping right side of the Nashville net to make it 4-0.
Each of the Predators lines had its chances but the Ducks were effective at limiting Nashville to the perimeter, blocking shots and clearing rebounds. The trio of Steve Sullivan, Vern Fiddler and J.P. Dumont created what were possibly Nashville's best scoring opportunities of the game during a shift 14 minutes into the third. Dumont released a long shot through traffic that Giguere stopped and the Ducks defense cleared, but a neutral zone turnover by Anaheim seconds later allowed Sullivan to feed Fiddler in the high slot for a scoring bid that Giguere was able to squeeze between his leg pads, kneeling.
NOTES: Predators center David Legwand was out of the lineup Wednesday with an arm injury suffered Monday in Phoenix, prompting head coach Barry Trotz to insert Scott Nichol between Legwand's usual linemates, Paul Kariya and Martin Erat. Nichol posted three shots in the game--all taken in the second period. Vern Fiddler also saw some ice time between Kariya and Erat... Rookie forward Alexander Radulov, who played on a line with Josef Vasicek and Scott Hartnell, logged a career-high 13:22 of ice time. Of that, 3:18 came on the power play. Radulov's point streak was snapped at six games... The loss marked the third time this season Nashville was shut out. Each of the first two times the Predators were blanked, they responded with a shutout of their own the following game... Nashville is now 2-3-0 against Pacific Division opponents this season... David Legwand and Mikko Lehtonen were scratches for the Predators.