NHL

Ducks hold off Predators to even first round series

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Associated Press
4/16/2011 2:47:56 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks called their timeout just a few minutes into Game 2. Assistant coach Dave Farrish furiously scribbled instructions for his power-play unit during an upcoming 5-on-3 advantage.

The Ducks knew they couldn't waste a golden opportunity to break Nashville's vaunted defence, and they rode those two early goals all the way to a victory that evened the first-round series.

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each had a goal and two assists, Ray Emery made 31 saves in his first playoff start in nearly four years, and the Ducks' offensive stars led them to a 5-3 victory Friday night.

Bobby Ryan scored two goals, while Perry and Teemu Selanne scored on that tone-setting power play in the opening minutes. Although they nearly gave away the game in the third period, the Ducks reclaimed their offensive swagger after nearly getting shut out in the series opener.

"Those goals set the tone for the game," Ryan said. "It gave us a little bit of comfort level to roll with. (Pekka) Rinne is a great goalie, but it makes us feel like he's a little vulnerable at least, because he's such a wall for them. Maybe the floodgates are open a little bit."

Game 3 is Sunday in Nashville.

Nashville dominated Game 1 in front of Rinne in a 4-1 victory Wednesday night, fully using their strengths in defence, discipline and goaltending. The Ducks went to their own strengths from that opening timeout forward in Game 2, getting relentless pressure from their top line of NHL goal-scoring champion Perry, captain Getzlaf and the freewheeling Ryan.

Anaheim's three-goal lead in the third period dwindled after goals by Nashville's Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward, but the Ducks hung on in the final minutes before Ryan's empty-net goal.

"I know we can do better," said Selanne, who scored in his second straight game. "I'm very disappointed in how hard we make it on ourselves. We take too many penalties, and we stop skating and play no defence. We have to get better than that."

Rinne stopped 23 shots and captain Shea Weber had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who couldn't quite make up a three-goal deficit.

"We did it to ourselves," Nashville defenceman Ryan Suter said. "We got out of position, took some bad penalties, and it ended up costing us. You can't give them chances on the power play, because they have a lot of talent over there. They're going to capitalize."

The Predators took a few additional blows as well. Martin Erat lost four teeth when Sheldon Brookbank accidentally hit him with the butt end of his stick when Erat came up behind the Anaheim defenceman, and Ryan appeared to stomp on Predators defenceman Jonathon Blum's foot trying to dislodge the puck behind the net with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz wrote off Erat's dental damage to "a hockey play," and didn't mention Ryan and Blum.

"If we don't take the penalties we did tonight, we're probably talking about a whole different story," said Trotz, whose team was among the NHL's least-penalized in the regular season. "You put those guys 5-on-3, I don't think there's three guys in the league you can put out there that are going to have much success."

After the timeout, Perry banged home a cross-crease pass from Saku Koivu with seven seconds left in the 5-on-3. Selanne then slipped in front and scored on a rebound 38 seconds later. The 40-year-old Finnish Flash also scored the Ducks' only goal in Game 1, giving him 37 in his post-season career.

Nashville got six power plays, but Emery covered up most of the Ducks' mistakes while taking over impressively for Dan Ellis, who was chased from the opener.

Emery made his first playoff start since losing the decisive Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup finals to the Ducks while he played for the Ottawa Senators. The veteran goalie has since been through an arduous comeback from the same degenerative hip condition that ended Bo Jackson's multi-sport career.

Emery made arguably his biggest saves back-to-back in the second period, poke-checking the puck away from Martin Erat on a breakaway before raising his left pad to stop Kevin Klein's rising shot while facedown on the ice.

"I just try my best out there, and sometimes it's not pretty," Emery said. "But if you grind it out, you get lucky sometimes, so I thought we did a good job as a team. This team scores a lot of pretty goals, but tonight we were banging in pucks and got some rebounds, so it was good."

NOTES: The Ducks switched depth forwards for Game 2, scratching Jarkko Ruutu and activating C Nick Bonino, who made his NHL playoff debut. Bonino, recalled from Syracuse (AHL) last weekend, will turn 23 on Wednesday. ... The Predators have already exceeded their total power-play goals in last season's entire first-round playoff series with Chicago. ... An apparent goal by Weber was immediately waved off during a first-period power play when David Legwand swept Emery's right leg out from underneath him as the puck arrived, earning a goalie interference penalty. Trotz said he agreed with the call.

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