Ducks rout Predators 5-2 in matchup between NHL’s top teams
Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals, and the Anaheim Ducks took the top of the NHL standings for themselves by beating the Nashville Predators 5-2 Thursday night.
Anaheim and Nashville came in tied atop both the NHL and the Western Conference with 72 points, though the Predators have a game in hand. The teams also have the league’s winningest goalies with Pekka Rinne back in net for Nashville after missing three weeks with an injured knee. Frederik Andersen made 44 saves in tying Rinne with his 29th win.
Sami Vatanen and Matt Beleskey scored a goal each for Anaheim. The Ducks started a five-game road trip in dominating fashion even with center Ryan Getzlaf scratched after aggravating a lower-body injury in warmups.
Colin Wilson and James Neal each scored in the third period for Nashville. But Corey Perry got an empty-netter with 1:19 remaining.
Anaheim now has won the first two games in the season series as the Ducks won their fourth straight in Nashville.
Nashville snapped a franchise-record eight-game winning streak at home. The Predators also had been a league-best 20-2-1 at home, with their last loss Dec. 6, and they had Rinne back in net for the first time since hurting his knee Jan. 13. The goalie was 10-0-1 in his 11 games before getting hurt.
But Rinne looked rusty in his return.
He stopped a shot from Silfverberg and the puck went off Rinne’s stick, with Nashville defenseman Shea Weber next to him. The Ducks forward skated around both and scored short-handed on a backhander over a sprawling Rinne 1:52 into the game.
Vatanen gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead in the Ducks’ first five shots with his try deflecting past Rinne’s glove.
It only got worse in the second period as the Predators were on the penalty kill for nearly four minutes to start the period, including two different 5-on-3s.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 6, 2015
Neal started the period in the box for a penalty late in the first, and the Predators killed off an interference call on Paul Gaustad and Rinne’s delay of game. After the second penalty expired, Beleskey scored on a wrister. Then Silfverberg scored his eighth of the season 43 seconds later for a 4-0 lead.
That forced Nashville to take its timeout, with coach Peter Laviolette talking to Rinne. The goalie stayed in the game, and the Predators avoided the shutout when Wilson scored his 17th from in front off a rebound at 4:00 of the third. Neal scored off the rebound of his shot at 15:53 on the power play.
Laviolette pulled Rinne with about three minutes remaining, but Perry’s goal sealed the win for Anaheim.
Notes: The Ducks now are 25-1-5 when scoring first and came in as one of only two NHL teams without a regulation loss when leading after the first period. Anaheim improved to 17-0-2. … Nashville is 5-9-1 when trailing after the first period. … Silfverberg’s short-handed goal was only the third allowed by Nashville this season.