Try as they might, the Ducks cannot defeat the Nashville Predators to save their lives. Saving their season was already out of the question, but how about showing a little pride?
Nashville has won six games in a row against Anaheim. The latest effort was a 3-1 come from behind win in the second of back to back games. Ouch.
To their credit, the Ducks came out much better than they did on Friday night against the Kings. Devante Smith-Pelly’s shorthanded goal at 7:32 of the first period was a beauty and certainly set a positive tone.
The Ducks held on to that 1-0 lead for the first two periods, although they could not get anything else past Anders Lindback. Lindback was relieving Pekke Rinne of duty, as the Predators played the night before in a losing effort against the Kings.
In the third period, the Ducks either became complacent, or the Predators woke up. Or a little of both.
Regardless, Patrik Hornqvist started Nashville’s comeback with a goal at 1:19. It was a bad change by the Ducks and the Predators pounced. It gave them life.
“They are really good and never stop pushing,” said Smith-Pelly. “They are great in their own zone and capitalize on your mistakes. I guess that is what they did tonight.”
Mike Fisher tipped in Ryan Suter’s shot at 10:27 to give Nashville their first lead. Instead of rebounding, the Ducks spent the final minutes of the period in the penalty box.
Pulling Jonas Hiller to at least make things even, the inevitable empty net goal sealed the deal for the Predators at 19:43.
Teemu Selanne, who was disgusted after the last game’s result, was livid after this one. Smith-Pelly was clearly interfered with by Nashville and prevented from making a play to prevent the final goal. Nothing was called. Selanne let all the referees and linesmen know of his displeasure and his disagreement. Fortunately he did not get an unsportsmanlike penalty for doing so.
“The effort was good,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “In the first two periods we were a pretty dominating team. It wasn’t for lack of opportunities, chances or effort. I think we had a tremendous effort tonight. We came up short.”
They come up short in the standings as well. Apparently the Ducks have run out of gas after an incredible January and February run that left them within four points of a playoff spot.
“They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs,” said Bobby Ryan, who had a hat trick of penalties in the game. “They play a full 60 minutes. They got a great back end. They got three lines that can hurt you and that top line with (Martin) Erat and Fisher and (Sergei) Kostitsyn moves the puck well. They’re highly effective throughout the ice.”
Too bad the same cannot be said of the Ducks. Those four points have stretched back out to 12 points out. With nine games to go, the Ducks can only earn 89 points, and with the way they have been playing lately, that isn’t going to happen. A couple more losses by the Ducks and a couple more wins by playoff contending teams and the Ducks can officially make their golf reservations.
So much potential, so little execution.
IN OTHER NOTES: Toni Lydman sat out the game with an upper body injury.