A frustrated Anaheim Ducks team arrived at Bridgestone Arena hoping to continue their winning ways, following a 4-1 victory against the Wild on Sunday. However, they finished their evening’s work on yet another improbably low note, falling to 1-4-1 on the season. After a fairly dull first period, the Predators overwhelmed Anaheim with a strong second period, blowing the game open with a 3-0 lead on goals from Eric Nystrom, Ryan Ellis, and Mike Ribeiro. Matthias Ekholm and Colin Wilson added third period tallies as the fans were treated to candy (second period “Goo Goo Goal,” and ice cream (third period 10oz. Frosty from Wendy’s.) What stood in the way of the fans completing THEIR hattrick, getting a donut (earned when the Preds post a shutout vs. their opposition,) was a third period goal from Duck forward Jiri Sekac. Probably just as well, the caloric intake was off the charts at Bridgestone, and with 37 more regular season games to go, it can only be assumed that without proper monitoring, the collective weight of Preds fans should increase significantly by season’s end in April. This is not the healthiest bunch to begin with (grin, and for the record, weighing in at almost 240, I consider myself one of the unhealthy throng.)
The Preds kept their game pretty simple, and although team scoring leaders James Neal and Filip Forsberg were kept at bay throughout the night, it was the forward line of Ribeiro, centering Craig Smith and Wilson that seemed to more than pick up the slack, providing consistent offensive presence throughout the contest. Defensemen Ellis (returning from a one-game absence due to injury) and Ekholm both added goals, and kept Anaheim on their heels for much of the evening.
It was a beautiful Austin Watson pass to Nystrom that put the Preds up 1-0 early in period 2, and just seconds after the Ducks killed off a penalty, Ellis blasted a shot past Duck netminder Anton Khudobin. Before the second intermission, and again less than 20 seconds after the Ducks successfully killed a penalty, Ribiero netted his first of the season, from Neal and Wilson.
Skating 4 on 4 early in the third period, Ekholm activated and found himself going in almost uncontested against Khudobin and gave the Preds a 4-0 lead, and after the Sekac tally, it was Wilson who closed out the Duck scoring, and ending a night Khudobin would probably like to forget.
One game of note around the league saw Nashville’s division rivals, Dallas take care of the Penguins in Pittsburgh, 4-1. While Nashville and Dallas remain tied atop the Central Division with identical 6-1-0 records, it’s the Eastern Conference Pittsburgh Penguins that are the Preds next opponent.
At 3-4-0, the Pens are led in goal by Mark-Andre Fleury and on offense by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and newly acquired Phil Kessel. Obviously things have yet to start clicking, Crosby has been held off the scoresheet in six of these first seven contests, scoring three points in a single game (goal, 2 assists) vs. Florida on Tuesday. Malkin, with 3 goals and 2 assists, and Kessel, with a couple of goals have yet to find chemistry with each other, and the defense is considered suspect to begin with.
Saturday night they ask the fans to “show the gold,” vs. the Pens, but as for me, I’ve worn a white Mikko Salomaki game-worn rookie tournament jersey to four consecutive wins, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to change my shirt and give the Pens any advantage 🙂 Go #Preds!