The Anaheim Ducks put their dreadful offensive start to an end, but they’re still waiting for a number of their top players to find the back of the net.
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have had little trouble scoring against Nashville recently, however, and they hope that continues when they visit the Predators on Thursday night.
Anaheim (1-3-1) had been shut out in three of its first four games prior to Sunday’s 4-1 home win against Minnesota. Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Mike Santorelli all scored as the Ducks needed five games for a victory for the first time since 2008-09.
Their first win came despite a season-low 22 shots after Anaheim had combined for 72 shots in its previous two games.
"Getting the two points is really important for the psyche of the group," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Now we understand that we can score and play well at times. Hopefully it’s like snowball and it builds. I mean, we’re not out of the woods or anything, but it was a step in the right direction."
Boudreau’s club is still the only team yet to score a power-play goal, failing on all 13 opportunities. The Ducks had issues on the man advantage last season, too, finishing 28th with a 15.7 percent success rate.
Perry, Getzlaf and Kesler, Anaheim’s top three returning goal scorers, are all still without a goal despite a combined 31 shots. Getzlaf and Perry at least recorded their first points with an assist apiece against the Wild, while Kesler is still yet to find the scoresheet.
The Ducks have averaged 3.6 goals while winning eight of the last nine meetings – including four straight in Nashville – and each member of that trio has experienced success in the series. Perry has six goals and nine assists in his last 14 meetings, Kesler has four goals in his last three trips to Nashville and Getzlaf has five goals and six assists in his last six matchups.
The Predators (5-1-0) come off back-to-back shootout wins against Ottawa and Tampa Bay. James Neal scored twice in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over the Lightning, pushing his season total to a team-best five – all of which have come in his last three games on 18 shots.
Neal also started hot last season with five goals in his first seven games, though he cooled off with four in his next 19 before finishing with 23 in his first season in Nashville.
"For me, I want to score. I need to score," he said. "When the opportunities are there, you want to bury them, and right now, I feel like those chances are there. I have to take advantage of that."
Pekka Rinne had another difficult outing, allowing four goals for the second straight start after he had given up only two on 80 shots in his first three.
"It was a fun game to play, a little bit frustrating as a goalie," said Rinne, who is 1-3-0 with a 4.18 goals-against average in his last four starts against the Ducks. "I don’t want to give up four every night, but it was fun."
Nashville has outscored opponents 6-0 in the first period, while Anaheim has been outscored 5-2 in the first 20 minutes.