NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Anaheim Ducks regained their scoring touch—with a little help from the Nashville Predators.
After scoring only two goals in three straight losses, the Ducks beat the Predators 5-2 om Saturday night. Ryan Getzlaf scored twice and Jonas Hiller made 36 saves as Anaheim heads into the Olympic break with an NHL-best 41 wins and 87 points.
The Predators also offered a boost. Anaheim’s first two goals were deflected in by Nashville players. The Ducks’ third goal, the go-ahead shot early in the third, was directed in by Emerson Etem after Hampus Lindholm unloaded a slap shot toward a crowded net.
“You create your own chances,” said right winger Corey Perry, who scored his 30th goal. “You go out there and you do the things that you got here and stick with them. Eventually it’s going to come.”
The Ducks, winners of five straight against the Predators, fell behind 1-0 and were outshot 14-7 in the first period. But Nashville failed to hold Anaheim scoreless in any period.
Getzlaf tied it with 1:11 left in the period. The Canadian Olympian’s wrist shot from the left side deflected off Predators defenceman Roman Josi and by goalie Carter Hutton.
Perry scored midway through the second. With 49 seconds left in a four-minute power play, Perry flipped a backhander toward the crease. The puck bounced off the skate of the Predators’ Victor Bartley and into the net.
“When you haven’t won for a while, and then you get the lead, you get really determined,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The Predators tied it early in the third on a power play that began in the second period. Fisher scored his 16th goal of the season on a slap shot 1:05 into the third.
Etem broke the tie, getting in front of Hutton at the last second and deflecting Lindholm’s slap shot. Mathieu Perreault sealed the victory 3 minutes later by smacking in Daniel Winnik’s pass.
“The goal that that was a killer was the fourth one,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “A couple of our forwards turned their back on the puck. He put it into an empty space where they just jumped on it.”
Getzlaf, who also had an assist, smacked an empty-net goal the length of the ice with 36 seconds left for his 29th goal. It was also his seventh three-point game of the season. With 67 points, he’s second in the league behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Though it was their first win this February, the Ducks improved to 23-7 in their last 30 games, which includes an 11-2 mark on the road.
“It was a real big win,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t want to go the next 20 days knowing we lost four in a row. That puts a little bit of distance between us and San Jose (80 points). It brings us closer to 90 now without teams catching up to us.”
Viktor Stalberg opened the scoring for the Predators with 8:25 left in the first period. Hiller blocked Victor Bartley’s slap shot, but Stalberg was there to fling a shot over the sprawling goalie. Mike Fisher also bested Hiller on a power-play goal early in the third period for a brief 2-2 tie.
Otherwise, Hiller thwarted Nashville’s best chances all night.
In the second period, he made a play on a slap shot by Shea Weber that knocked the stick out of Hiller’s hands. Later, he emphatically snatched a wrist shot by Ryan Ellis. Hiller, who entered ranked 30th in the league with a .917 save percentage, will head to Sochi to play for Switzerland in his second Olympics.
“I thought Hiller was a big difference,” Trotz said. “I thought we played a real solid game and the most scoring chances we’ve created on any team this year was against the No. 1 team in the league.”
Despite just 24 shots by the Ducks, the Predators lost their third straight. Nashville will try to climb up from the bottom of the Central Division when it returns from the break.
“We just have to keep playing the same way and fight hard every game,” Josi said. “From now on, every game is going to be a playoff game, and we just have to make a push.”
Notes: Lindholm had two assists. … Nashville has 60 points at 25-24-10 and is just one point behind Winnipeg. … Ducks winger Teemu Selanne did not travel with the team to Nashville in order to gain some rest before joining Team Finland in Sochi for his sixth Olympics. … Predators defenceman Michael Del Zotto played in his 300th game. … Predators general manager David Poile, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic team, will not head to Sochi with Team USA after an puck hit him in the head on Thursday while in Minnesota. He had two successful surgeries on his nose and eye areas and remained in the hospital for further observation.