Steve Sullivan scored with 1:48 left in overtime, and the Predators beat Anaheim 5-4 on Tuesday night for their third straight victory and 11th in 14 games. The Ducks lost for the fifth time in six games, but still lead Nashville in the West by four points.
“It’s probably no different than when we were up in their building,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of a 4-0 loss in Anaheim on Dec. 6. “We were missing (David) Legwand and (Jason) Arnott. So no, I don’t have any sympathy for them. They didn’t have any sympathy for us.”
Kimmo Timonen skated around the back of the net and backhanded a pass to Sullivan in the slot, and he beat Ilya Bryzgalov for his 13th goal this season. The victory was Nashville’s first against Anaheim in this series since Oct. 8, 2005, when the Predators won in a shootout.
“Kimmo, thank God, came off the bench,” Sullivan said. “I was running out of options, and he’s such a talented player. … I was just waiting to see how I could get it to him.”
Anaheim at least picked up a point.
“It’s better than no points,” said Anaheim forward Todd Marchant, who played after missing the past six games. “We have to look at this game and learn from our mistakes and build and get better next game against Dallas on Thursday.”
Timonen also had a goal for Nashville. Paul Kariya added a goal and an assist, and Legwand and Jean-Pierre Dumont also scored. Marek Zidlicky had three assists and Martin Erat added two assists.
Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf each scored for Anaheim, Dustin Penner added a goal and an assist, and Corey Perry had two assists.
The game marked the return of Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who had missed 21 games since tearing a ligament in his left hand Nov. 23. He gave up a goal on the first shot by Chris Kunitz. He stopped Selanne from up close in overtime and saved 27 of the 31 shots he faced.
“It shows when your goalie doesn’t have the best game that the team can overcome that, and that’s the sign of good teams,” Vokoun said.
Anaheim had won five of the last six against the Predators.
But the Ducks are hurting without defencemen Chris Pronger (fractured foot) and Francois Beauchemin (spleen). Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere missed his sixth consecutive with a strained groin. Coach Randy Carlyle doesn’t want to use that as an excuse, not after falling behind 3-1 after the first 20 minutes.
“It might have been the worst first period we played all season. We clawed our way back into it, but we weren’t sharp as a group,” Carlyle said.
Kariya, who holds the Ducks’ career records for points, goals and assists, started the scoring with a slap shot in the opening minutes. Kariya also passed the puck while up against the boards to Erat, who set up Legwand for his wrister at 5:35 and a 2-1 lead.
Kariya got the assist on a slap shot by Timonen for a 3-1 lead late in the first.
The Predators went up 4-2 after Dumont scored his 10th goal of the season on a slap shot 7:14 into the second.
But the Ducks outshot (14-4) and outscored (3-1) Nashville in the second after scoring twice with the man advantage against a team that had killed 18 consecutive penalties before Penner scored on a power play at 3:16 of the second.
Getzlaf added his power-play goal at 12:00 to pull Anaheim within 4-3. Selanne tied it up with his sixth goal in six games at 17:30, beating Vokoun just past his glove with a shot from the slot.
Nashville had two power plays in the third, but had trouble generating offence and was outshot 7-5 in the period.
“We are trying to chase them in the conference,” Sullivan said of the Ducks. “So for us to have such a great first period and such a bad second, to come out with a victory … we’ll take all the good out of it and continue on.”
Notes: Nashville now is 6-3 in overtime, 17-6 in one-goal games and 19-9-2 when outshot. … Marchant skated in his 100th game with the Ducks. … Arnott had a goal for his eighth point in four games, and Dumont has six points (two goals, 4 assists) in his last four. … Anaheim defenceman Scott Niedermayer, named an all-star starter during the game, had an assist for 10 points in the last seven games.