After losing the first game of the series, the Ducks regrouped, found their game, and found a way to put pucks past Pekke Rinne. The 5-3 victory over the Predators evens up the series as the teams head to Nashville for games three and four.
Neither the Ducks nor the Predators have been able to stay out of the penalty box. Just as Nashville made the Ducks pay early in the first period of the first game, the Ducks made Nashville pay for their sins early on in game two.
Martin Erat was joined in the penalty box by Shane O’Brien, giving Anaheim an early 5 on 3 opportunity. Corey Perry got the first one at 5:24 and it was followed up by Teemu Selanne at 6:02. Strike one. Strike two. Ducks had a 2-0 lead and a much better start to their hockey game.
Suddenly Rinne did not look so invulnerable in net. And the Predators did not look nearly as disciplined as they were during the regular season, with the second fewest penalties in the NHL.
“It was huge and it set the tone for the game,” said Bobby Ryan, who had two goals of his own. “It gave us a little bit of a comfort level to roll with throughout that first period. They came back and threw everything they had at us.”
Nashville came close to getting on the board late in the first when the puck got past Ray Emery, who was seeing his first start in net since incurring a “lower body injury” more than a week ago. The officials ruled that Emery was interfered with and instead of the score being 2-1, the Ducks were on the power play again.
The score did make it to 2-1at 4:29 of the second period with Shea Weber getting the puck up and over Emery on the power play. Emery had made a great save just prior, but could not stop everything, especially with Perry minus his stick.
Ryan took advantage of a nice fat juicy rebound that Rinne left in the crease and said “thank you very much” as he placed the puck in the net at 7:12 to make it 3-1.
Emery was called upon shortly thereafter to make what would end up being the save of the game. After poke checking away Erat’s efforts, Emery stopped another shot with his leg pad while sprawled on the ice. Preventing that goal ended up being the difference maker at the end of the game.
Ryan Getzlaf added to the big line’s night with another rebound goal at 15:54 that made it 4-1. At that point, Ducks fans felt it necessary to heckle Rinne.
Nashville was motivated to change things around in the third period. Patrik Hornqvist made it 4-2 at 1:30 of the first period, taking advantage of yet another power play. Joel Ward brought the Predators within one goal at 10:17, making things nervous for the remainder of regulation.
Rinne vacated the net with a minute to go and Cam Fowler helped seal the deal with a great play to Ryan, who put the puck into the empty net for his second goal of the game. 5-3 Anaheim. Free chicken wings at Hooters. With :53 seconds remaining, the game done.
“(Rinne) is a heck of a goalie,” Ryan said. “Game 1 he saved everything we threw at him. Tonight we got some fortunate bounces and we were happy to capitalize. It makes us feel like he’s a little vulnerable back there at least because he has been such a wall for them all season. Hopefully the flood gates are open maybe.”
Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. But if the Ducks continue to play their game and get contributions from their big line and specialty teams, the Ducks certainly have a chance of taking back a game in Nashville.
For now, the series is tied. One win down. 15 to go.