Photo by Harry How/Getty
Predators forward Scott Nichol, who wore the alternate captain's "A" Sunday night, battles Ducks forward Travis Moen along the end boards.
Despite playing without five of their top nine scorers, the Nashville Predators managed to gain a point in a hard-fought 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night at the Honda Center. Kimmo Timonen and J.P. Dumont scored first-period goals to put Nashville up 2-0 before Teemu Selanne and Dustin Penner pulled the Ducks even. Tomas Vokoun stopped 33 shots through regulation and overtime to help the Predators earn the point in the standings before Anaheim outscored Nashville 2-1 in the tie-breaking shootout.
Nashville's record falls to 44-19-4 with the loss and the team's win streak is halted at four games. The Predators close out the current five-game road trip Tuesday night in Detroit.
In addition to the absence of Scott Hartnell (broken foot) and Steve Sullivan (back spasms), who had each missed four games prior to Sunday's tilt in Anaheim, Nashville was without Jason Arnott (flu), David Legwand (upper body injury) and Peter Forsberg (upper body injury). Forwards Rich Peverley and Ramzi Abid were recalled from the Predators' minor league affiliate in Milwaukee under emergency conditions and inserted into the lineup Sunday.
Peverley got things rolling for Nashville when he won an offensive-zone face-off back to Timonen for a shot that resulted in the game's first goal. Timonen's blast beat goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere at 8:48 of the first period for the defenseman's 10th goal of the season.
Dumont made it 2-0 with just two seconds remaining before the first intermission. Dan Hamhuis took an Anaheim turnover and shipped the puck up to Dumont near the red line. Dumont dropped the puck to Paul Kariya who carried it through the middle and across the Ducks' blue line before backhanding a pass left to Dumont. With the puck rolling, Dumont fired a shot from above the left face-off circle. Giguere was fooled by the puck, which deflected into the net off of the goaltender's blocking glove.
Anaheim, who outshot the Predators 11-6 in the first period, pulled within one goal just 1:04 into Period 2. Forward Chris Kunitz blocked a point shot by Nashville defenseman Marek Zidlicky and sent the play the other way, springing Selanne and Andy McDonald for a 2-on-0 break against goalie Tomas Vokoun. Selanne finished the play with a shot through Vokoun's legs.
Sparks flew 30 seconds later as Darcy Hordichuk and George Parros dropped the gloves for a scrap. It was the most evident flare-up in a simmering physical game that featured plenty of hard hits and several scrums after the whistle. In the final minute of the second period, Nashville's Vitaly Vishnevski stepped up to deliver a stiff check on McDonald and drew a retaliatory cross-checking penalty against Travis Moen. At the 20:00 mark, Dumont and Rob Niedermayer were each slapped with roughing penalties for a scuffle just before the second intermission.
Anaheim evened the score at 2-2 with 3:26 gone in the third, when Penner deflected a Chris Pronger point shot past Vokoun. Nashville's makeshift line of Kariya, Martin Erat and Scott Nichol delivered an inspiring shift seven minutes into the third and Erat and Kariya nearly connected for the go-ahead marker. Midway through the period, Vokoun came up with back-to-back stops on Francois Beauchemin and Kunitz to lead his teammates to the overtime session despite a third period in which they were outshot 13-3. The four-on-four, five-minute overtime wasn't much more promising for the Predators as they managed no shots on goal compared to three for the Ducks.
Still, the scrappy Predators held on for the shootout--an area of the game they typically excel at as evidenced by their 6-2 record entering Sunday's game. Anaheim elected to shoot first and Getzlaf put his side up 1-0 with a backhander through Vokoun's legs. Nashville rookie Alexander Radulov, who had a strong game, attempted a similar move but was thwarted by the stick of Giguere. Friends and former teammates Selanne and Kariya each scored on their chances in Round 2, and after Corey Perry was stopped by Vokoun's leg pad in Round 3, the spotlight turned to Erat with a chance to tie the shootout and force an extra round. Erat's attempt--a near replay of Kariya's laser over the glove hand of Giguere--beat the goaltender but struck the goalpost before sailing harmlessly to the corner of the rink to end the game.
NOTES: Nashville is 6-2-2 in its last 10 games. Four of the Predators' last six games have been decided by a shootout... Kimmo Timonen extended his point streak to five games with a goal against the Ducks... Rich Peverley registered his first NHL point--an assist on Kimmo Timonen's goal--in his first career NHL game Sunday. He finished the game with a +2 rating in 14:37 of ice time... Scott Nichol played a season-high 22:42, over five minutes more than his previous season high of 17:20. He fired a team-high four shots on goal and won 10 of 16 face-offs he took... Paul Kariya logged 24:54, the most ice time for him since Dec. 17 (28:31)... Ramzi Abid made his Predators debut, logging 7:13 of ice time... Nashville is 29-1-5 when leading after two periods and 26-6-3 when leading after one.