Weren't we just here last week?
Yes, but hopefully, our hometown heroes will see a much better result than last Saturday. A huge factor in those results will be the status of Teemu Selanne.
Before the game starts, it's officially announced: The Flash is back!! Honestly, yours truly was a bit concerned about how Teemu Selanne would fit back into the lineup after he returned to the ice. I'm loving our top two lines as they have been these past couple of games and I don't want to see things change. At least, not too much.
Knowing my boy Bobby Ryan is good playing on either line (that boy is good playing with nearly anyone), I still wanted to see Matt Beleskey with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and I still wanted Saku Koivu with Dan Sexton. Why mess with good chemistry when we FINALLY have it?
As the first shifts hit the ice, I was happy to see that coach Carlyle and myself seemed to be of like mind for once.
Teemu was placed on the third line, with Petteri Nokelainen and Mike Brown. Odd linemates perhaps, but it didn't stop Teemu. He would pot the first goal of the game during the first period (during which yours truly had only radio feed so...). It was a tip-in coming to Teemu from Nokie in front of the crease, but you could definintely see that the down time hasn't done anything to the Finnish Flash and his ability to find those sweet spots on the ice. I think the time he spent conditioning only made him faster.
Starting into the second, our boys are moving well, spending lots of time with the puck. They have a number of scoring opportunities, and it eventually pays off. Matt Beleskey's third goal of the season (and third in as many games), is a perfect end to tic-tac-toe passing between Perry to Getzlaf on the wings and to Beleskey skating undefended down the slot.
Rinne is the only thing standing between him and the net, and it isn't enough. Ducks go up 2-0 and I'm definitely LOVING this kid! He's on a streak of game-winning goals and I'm hoping he can keep it up on that Perry/Getzlaf line.
Or maybe someone else on that line? I'm typing the previous paragraph and suddenly, Getzy scores from the top of the left circle. A seeing-eye slapper that's effectively screened by Beleskey.
Woooo!! Ducks up 3-0!!
The goals have made our boys confident and aggressive in their forechecking. The Predators are back on their heels and getting a little sloppy. Hiller is also feeding off that extra confidence, making some spectacular glove-handed saves and not giving up any rebounds.
Our boys continue to look sharp as the second period ends. Passes are connecting and feet are moving. Unfortunately, our Ducks take their first penalty before the horn sounds.
In the beginning moments of the third, and our Ducks' first penalty kill, Hornqvist nails a puck past Hiller. Preds are on the board, and energized by their goal. They're aggressive and taking advantage of the fact that our Ducks are having trouble getting into the Preds' zone. Even the power play falls flat.
They come back stronger in the last half, playing aggressively in the neutral zone in order to protect their lead. Unfortunately, a bad turnover leads to another goal for the Preds. They've closed the gap to one with three minutes left in regulation. It greatly unnerves me whenever our boys have to defend a lead with five minutes or so left. There's always that chance of a crazy comeback by the opponent, of the highlight-reel goal with 20 seconds left on the clock, of our boys getting squashed on the doorstep of victory.
But not tonight! Ducks would snap a 5-game streak of road losses and win this one, 3-2. Let's do it again tomorrow, boys! And Carlyle, please don't play Hiller on a back-to-back, ok??
"The biggest thing is just his poise and his hands are unbelievable. I played with [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby, and those guys are probably the two best in the league. Bobby's hands are right with those guys... He's a superstar in the making, it seems."
---Ryan Whitney, former Ducks defenseman
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Weren't we just here last week?