Legwand evens the score, helps Predators rally to Game 5 victory

Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 2:09am

ANAHEIM, Calif. — David Legwand did not have any excuses. The Nashville Predators center did have perspective.

Legwand not only committed a turnover in the opening minute of the third period, he then lost his stick and twice failed to stop left wing Bobby Ryan, who delivered an unassisted goal that gave the Anaheim Ducks their first lead of the night.

In terms of showmanship, there are relatively few goals in the history of hockey to rival Ryan’s.

In terms of value on the scoreboard, it was no different than any other. So later in the period when Ryan committed a turnover in his offensive end and Legwand set up Joel Ward for a goal — things were even, including on the scoreboard.

The Predators eventually came from behind one more time Friday before they won Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series 4-3 on Jerred Smithson’s goal at 1:57 of overtime.

“It was nice to get that second one,” Legwand said. “He kind of fumbled it at the blue line and we went down and scored. His might have been a little prettier, but it was the same outcome.”

Coach Barry Trotz said he was confident that Legwand understood the mistakes he made that led to Ryan’s goal and felt no particular need to go into details immediately after it happened. Following the game, Legwand seemed pretty clear about it.

“He went around me twice,” Legwand said. “You have to get in his way a little bit. It’s something that happens.”

It doesn’t happen often, though, particularly the way it ended — a backhand flip, high to the right side of goalie Pekka Rinne.

“[He’s] a pretty amazing player with a lot of skill,” Rinne said. “It’s just a sick goal. I guess that’s all you can say.”

Good move: Ryan Suter wasn’t the only one who needed a rest. None of the Anaheim Ducks on the ice with 39 seconds to play were eligible to come off, though, because they had just iced the puck.

Rather than call a timeout and allow Suter (not to mention the Ducks) to catch his breath, Trotz simply sent Cody Franson over the boards to take Suter’s place.

Mike Fisher cleanly won the ensuing faceoff and the puck came to Franson, who laid it off to Shea Weber on his left. Weber’s slap shot was on target and tied the game with 35.3 seconds to play in regulation.

“”Obviously, I think they want to have [Suter] and [Weber] out there, but I think he was tired,” Franson said. “I was the guy who was lucky enough to go with [Weber]. We obviously want to get his shot in there for us and that’s what we tried to do. … That’s kind of what I was thinking the whole time.”

J-P plays: Veteran forward J-P Dumont made his first appearance of the series as he filled in for the injured Martin Erat, on the roster at least.

With a few exceptions, based on situational play, Matt Halischuk was elevated from the fourth line into Erat’s spot at left wing with center David Legwand and right wing Joel Ward.

Dumont played on the fourth line with Steve Sullivan and Blake Geoffrion and logged just 6:59 of ice time, fewer than all Nashville players except Geoffrion.

Dumont was on as the extra attacker in the final minute of regulation, though, and helped set the screen on Weber’s game-tying goal.

“With J-P out there, I just felt like [there’s] a guy who has that knack,” Trotz said. “I don’t know how he does it, but he does — he has that knack.”

Game 5 — finally: Nashville is now 1-5 all-time in the fifth game of a playoff series.

The Predators lost all five previous Game 5s in their history — two each to Detroit and San Jose and one to Chicago — the last two of them in overtime. Twice, that defeat ended the series, and the other three times a season-ending defeat in Game 6 followed.

They were outscored 19-12, with four of those defeats by a single goal.

Briefly: The Predators have 18 goals this postseason, which is their all-time high and already two more than the previous mark they set in last year’s six-game set with Chicago. … Defenseman Kevin Klein scored his first career playoff goal, in his 11th all-time playoff game. He became the 10th different Nashville player to score in this series. Smithson became the 11th. … Anaheim’s first goal was on the power play. The Ducks have scored with the man-advantage in every game of the series. … With the secondary assist on Weber’s goal, Fisher has six points in the series, one short of the franchise record.