After winning three in a row, the Ducks hit a small bump in the road with a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. Outshooting the Predators 41-24, the Ducks came up against goaltender Pekke Rinne doing his best Jonas Hiller impression. On Sunday, Hiller was the one who had to make save after save while being pelted with shots. Tonight it was Rinne.
The first blow to the Ducks was an oddly reviewed goal early in the first period. Jerred Smithson was poking at a puck that Hiller appeared to stop at 5:10. After a long and lengthy review, much longer than usual, it was ruled a goal by the war room in Toronto.
While there was no seemingly clear proof that the puck crossed the line, the puck did indeed go over. Later in the game a camera angle was found and blown up to show the dark puck through the netting and over the line behind Hiller. Small comfort for Ducks fans, who have been used to their guys scoring first of late.
The Ducks continued to pressure Nashville. Bobby Ryan had a puck that looked like it could have been the same scenario as the Smithson goal, with it tucked underneath Rinne on the goal line. No review was made in this instance and it remained 1-0 Nashville.
Patric Hornqvist extended the lead at 3:56 of the second period by deflecting a puck off his skate. Hornqvist continues to lead his team in goals.
The Predators continued to be stingy with goals against. Nothing was happening for the Ducks until midway through the third period.
Saku Koivu finally put one past Rinne at 11:46 and that provided enough fire and motivation for Anaheim to pour it on. Instead of a tying goal, the Ducks gave up not one, but two empty net goals in the final minute. 4-1 Nashville and a sour taste in fans mouths who felt they should have had better.
Again, reference Sunday night against Chicago, when it was Chicago fans who felt the same way.
“We fired a lot of blanks,” said coach Randy Carlye, clearly unimpressed with the shot total, a marked improvement over the past three games. “It just seemed like the puck was doing funny things for us. In some of the situations they beat us in one-on-one battles with the puck. That was really the tell-tale story of the game. When we had an opportunity to execute we put pucks in people’s feet or we slapped it around a little too much. Our frustration level got up in the end specifically, not so much during the end. I thought we were pretty good as far as holding our composure. At the end, we got frustrated.”
Ducks can take Thursday to recompose themselves and prepare for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
In other notes: Jason Blake missed his first game since injuring his shoulder against Chicago on Sunday. Blake has skated on his own and is not expected to be out for an extended period of time. Ryan Getzlaf received news of an expected 4 – 6 week recovery time for his broken nasal sinus bones. He will not be available until after the All Star break at the earliest.