ANAHEIM, Calif. — The punitive effect of Nashville Predators’ penalties was significant — to say the least — Friday in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series.
A pair of early violations led to two Anaheim Ducks’ power play goals 38 seconds apart. Then a goaltender interference call negated a Nashville goal. All of that took place in the first period.
Ultimately the Predators fell 5-3 and the Ducks evened the series at one game apiece.
“You can’t give them chances on the power play,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “They’re going to capitalize. We have to do a better job. We know that. We have to have a better start if we want to have a chance.”
The Ducks tied for the league’s second-best power play during the regular season with a success rate of 23.5 but had the fewest 5-on-5 goals of any Western Conference playoff team.
The Predators were second in fewest penalty minutes at 8.8 per game.
In this one, they committed six penalties, nearly 50 percent more than their regular-season average,
The first two, slashing calls against Martin Erat and Shane O’Brien, resulted in two Anaheim goals and a 2-0 Nashville when the game was barely six minutes old. The fourth, a goaltender interference call against David Legwand, led officials to waive off what would have been the Predators’ first goal.
“We have to be smarter,” Legwand said. “… It’s tough. Obviously, you could look back now at all the chances and everything that happened and all that stuff, but we have to be better from the get-go.”
Half of Anaheim’s six goals thus far in the series have come on the power play, two of them in 5-on-3 situations.
“You just look at the numbers during the regular season,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Their power play scored twice as many goals as ours did. When you look at the world-class players they have there, you’re playing with fire.”
• Positive change: The Ducks went with Ray Emery in goal instead of Dan Ellis, who started on Wednesday.
The move clearly paid off as Emery made 31 saves, including some big ones when the outcome remained very much in doubt. It was his first NHL postseason start since 2007, when he played for Ottawa in the Stanley Cup finals, which the Ducks ultimately won.
“I thought he was the logical choice,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “He earned that right with our hockey club and his previous record in the games he played for us. Not that Dan Ellis didn’t, but I just thought in the situation we were presented with that Ray Emery was the best choice.”
Emery went 7-2-0 after he returned to action in April following a year off due to hip surgery. He missed the final two games of the regular season with an upper body injury but declared himself healthy at the start of the series.
• Grin and bear it: Erat lost four teeth when he was hit in the mouth by the butt end of Ducks’ defenseman Sheldon Brookbank’s stick as the two battled for the puck late in the third period.
Erat did not miss a shift, though, and the next time he was on the ice he got the primary assist on Joel Ward’s goal which got Nashville within one, 4-3, with 9:43 to play.
“I really thought it was just a hockey play,” Trotz said. “… Marty ran right into his butt end, I guess, because he lost a bunch of teeth.”
• Offensive defenseman: With his second power-play goal in as many games and an assist, Shea Weber became the Predators’ all-time playoff leader in goals (seven) and points (15) and power play goals (three).
Dating back to Game 6 last season against Chicago, the Nashville captain has scored a goal in three straight postseason contests.