Nashville Predators 5, Ducks 4
Eight keys to game:
THE FACTS: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller didn’t make it through the opening 12 minutes in his first game back after missing 19 of the last 20 because of vertigo-like symptoms. Hiller gave up three goals in nine shots against the Predators, and the Ducks couldn’t make up the difference in the loss at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
THE STAT: The Ducks could have jumped three spots in the Western Conference standings with a victory and a loss by the Kings against San Jose later tonight. Instead they’ll remain in eighth, one point ahead of ninth-place Dallas. Nashville, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Kings and Chicago with its fifth consecutive victory and now sits in fifth place.
TURNING POINT: Hiller made four saves in the first two minutes but was bitten on the fifth shot on goal by the Predators, a wrist shot from five feet by Sergei Kostitsyn at the 2:04 mark. About nine minutes later, the Predators scored two goals 19 seconds apart. Hiller was done for the night and the Ducks were in big-time catch-up mode.
HOT: Take your pick between Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. Perry scored two more goals to give him 42 on the season and move to within one of Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay for the league lead. Perry also had an assist to give him 13 points in the last eight games. Selanne scored the other two goals, giving him four in the last three games. Unfortunately, the Ducks drew within a goal with just 27 seconds left, not enough time for Selanne to score the tying goal late in regulation for the third consecutive game.
NOT: Anaheim rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa was a season-high minus-four for the game with a team-high three giveaways.
GOOD MOVE: To get an extra attacker on the ice, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle pulled Dan Ellis from goal with just under three minutes remaining and the Ducks trailing by two. He got the goal he wanted, just too little too late.
BAD MOVE: What was Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter thinking as he kicked the puck out of the air in the final minute? He ended up booting it over the shoulder of his goalie, Pekka Rinne, cutting the deficit to one. If Rinne doesn’t win the Vezina Trophy for top goalkeeper honors this season, Suter won’t be getting a Christmas card. You have to also question whether Hiller was ready for this game.
NOTABLE: Both of Selanne’s goals came on the power play, giving the Ducks five extra-man goals in the last three games and Selanne has three of them.
UP NEXT: Saturday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. PT