At the end of this game, quality goaltending would be the reason the 11-3-3 Nashville Predators would prevail. The amount of shots Pekka Rinne was overwhelmingly susceptible to was ridiculous. He recorded 38 saves. Three of the saves came in a span of one minute; knocking them away, back-to-back-to-back. He stopped 19 shots in the second period alone, facing his toughest task of the night. It wasn’t just the amount of saves he turned away, it was the manner in which he did it. “He was really good,” said coach Peter Laviolette, at the conclusion of the game. “He gave us an opportunity to win.” The Predators won for the third time in four games, defeating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Nashville is 10-1-1 when scoring first this season. Shea Weber did just that, scoring the game’s first goal midway through the frame of the opening period, on a power play. Standing just above the left circle, the Predators captain scored his sixth goal of the season, beating Frederik Andersen with a one-timer, with an assist from Roman Josi. This was Weber’s fifth power play goal on the year. Josi’s assist was the 100th of his NHL career.
Rickard Rakell evened the game at 1-1, approximately a minute later, as he beat Rinne with a wraparound. Nashville regained the lead 2-1, with almost seven minutes still left in the first, when James Neal carried the puck from inside the zone, sending a soft wrist shot on net, that beat Andersen, squeezing between his pads. “That was a lucky one, Neal said. I was surprised it went in.” The goal was Neal’s ninth of the season. He has at least one point in four consecutive games and leads the team in goals.
Miikka Salomaki added his first goal of the season around six minutes into the second period as he redirected Mattias Ekholm’s shot to make it 3-1 Preds. This goal would give Nashville the lead for good. It would also end Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen’s night, marking the second consecutive game in which Nashville has chased the opponent’s starting goaltender off the ice. “He wasn’t very sharp,” stated Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. Andersen gave up three goals on 10 shots before being replaced by Anton Khudobin, who stopped all 11 shots he faced.
Former Predator Mike Santorelli tried to make it a game, adding a goal for the Ducks, five minutes into the third period, putting home the rebound of a shot by Kevin Bieksa. That made the score 3-2. Carl Hagelin added some slight drama at around nine minutes. Hagelin had a partial breakaway, pulling up for a slap shot from the low slot, but was denied by Rinne. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist denied Hagelin again with a diving stop on the rebound attempt.
The Ducks have lost four of their last five. “At the end of the day, we have to get pucks in,” said Ducks center Andrew Cogliano. Anaheim left winger Jakob Silfverberg played in his 200th career game. Silfverberg had three shots on goal, one hit and two takeaways on the night.