In virtually any significant statistic you could name — i.e. shots, power plays, faceoff wins — the Nashville Predators had a significant advantage over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
That was not the case on the scoreboard, although it could have been.
In front of a sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena the Predators had a pair of apparent goals waived off and then fell behind before they rallied for a 3-2 victory that snapped their four-game losing streak on home ice and gave them a 4-3-0 mark over the last seven overall — all one-goal games.
“I thought we played really strong,” coach Barry Trotz said “I thought we played a pretty complete game – we had a lot of detail. … I thought it was an outstanding game.
“It got a little bit closer than I wanted it to be.”
Roman Josi put Nashville ahead to stay with his first career goal 2:33 into the third period. Jordin Tootoo, in his return from a two-game suspension, made it a much-needed two-goal advantage (3-1) just over three minutes later.
Based on some of the numbers, the difference easily could have been twice as large at that point and, in fact, it nearly was.
Colin Wilson had a goal waived off that would have put the Predators on top fewer than five minutes into the contest. Mike Fisher had one disallowed 6:05 into the second, with Nashville behind by a goal.
Wilson fanned on a crossing pass and had the puck deflect off his skate and past goalie Dan Ellis. Officials ruled it a clear kicking motion and upheld that decision following a video review. Fisher’s goal was negated because it was ruled that Ellis had frozen the puck.
“It gets frustrating, but personally, I used it positively,” Wilson said. “I wanted to get a goal so bad after that first goal was called off. I’m sure Fisher was doing the same thing. I think it gets you a little more motivated and it gets you a little mad.
“We took it in a positive way. We weren’t just sitting around yelling at the refs the whole time.”
Wilson did register an assist on his team’s first goal, which Nick Spaling scored at 12:03 of the second period.
He did not get a goal, though. That meant he had to be satisfied with the fact that Nashville outshot Anaheim 28-17, created four power play opportunities to the Ducks’ one, won 65 percent of the faceoffs and basically dominated play from the start.
“There isn’t a tremendous amount of offense there [with Nashville],” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Nashville was hungry and they’re good in their building. It was hard to get through. They had the puck in our zone it seemed like the whole night.”
Goalie Pekka Rinne did not face his first shot until roughly 15 minutes in the contest. He ultimately saw fewer in this game than any other this season, although Anders Lindback saw just 14 a week earlier against Buffalo.
“It’s always a challenge when you don’t face that many shots,” Rinne said. “I just had to stay focused and be ready. You know their talent and they’re good players. You never know when there’s going to be a good scoring chance so it’s a challenge. I’d rather face more shots but I don’t want to complain when we play this well.”
It’s only fitting. After all, his teammates resisted the urge to complain when their shots that actually found the back of the net did not result in goals on the scoreboard.
“Our guys were a little bit frustrated but we just said, ‘Hey, keep coming,” Trotz said. “We felt we were going to win that hockey game. … We felt they could only hold us off so long.”