Thanks to two late season wins against the Kings and a multitude of other wins/losses by others, the Ducks ended up in fourth place in the Western Conference with home ice advantage for the opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Round one, game one for the Ducks at The Honda Center started off tonight against the Nashville Predators, who have made it to the first round of the playoffs in the last six of seven seasons, but never a game farther. These two teams previously met four times during the regular season with the advantage going to the Preds, who won three, and lost the fourth by one goal.
Unfortunately, tonight’s game was no different. Although the game started off hard hitting by both sides, Matt Beleskey took a cross-checking penalty a little less than five minutes in, resulting in a power play for the Preds. Shea Weber took the opportunity to launch a shot from the blue line that Dan Ellis barely batted an eye at. Dan Ellis started in between the pipes tonight against his former team from 2007-2010. The “C Team” goalie got the nod when back-up netminder, Ray Emery, sustained a lower body injury against the Sharks on 4/3 and All-Star, Jonas Hiller, is still out indefinitely with bouts of vertigo. Ellis, however, was chased from the net in the beginning of the third, after letting the Preds light the lamp four times.
The loss was not Ellis’ alone, though. The Ducks looked slightly flat, a tad bit frantic at times, and Selanne’s fellow Fin, Pekka Rinne, was brilliant in goal, stopping 29 of the Ducks’ 30 shots, including robbing Selanne of what was most assuredly a goal on any other netminder. Mr. Carrie Underwood, Mike Fisher, was of no help to the Ducks’ either, as the last minute acquisition scored a beautiful shot at the end of the second and another less than one minute into the third at the red line to give the Preds a 4-0 lead. Not wanting to be shut out, though, Teemu managed to get his 36th playoff goal in on a power play mid-way through the third off a feed from Koivu for the one-timer. Perry was held scoreless and pointless this game.
One thing that is for certain, is that the Preds are going after the Rocket Richard winner this series, to try to ruffle his feathers a bit. From subtle pokes by Rinne with his stick, to attempts to pile drive him the boards by Weber, the Preds know who scores the goals on this team and are making a point of targeting him. Perry, who is only the third Duck player in franchise history to reach the 50 goal mark (Kariya & Selanne), has not taken kindly to the slights by the Preds. Perry spent the game jawing at Rinne, being suckered punched in the face by O’Brien while a ref held him, and taking a laser beam shot to the arm by Sbiza.
If the Ducks can get Emery back in the net and Perry back on his game, with the pre-playoff jitters out of the way, I think the Ducks have a good shot at taking this next game at home at the Honda Center before heading to the Bridgestone Arena for games three and four.
Game two is on Friday at 7:30 at the Honda Center where the Ducks will hopefully avenge their game one loss. Game three is Sunday at 3:00 in Nashville and then on Wednesday at 5:30 at the Bridgestone Arena once again.
About the Author
Written by KARLY TAMBARA