Preds lose Fisher, defeat Ducks in emotional contest

Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 11:03pm

Brian McGrattan tried.

The Nashville Predators tough guy, claimed off waivers from Anaheim less than a week into the season, did not need to see much to know his former team’s intentions. It was less than seven minutes into Saturday’s contest, in fact, when he looked up Ducks’ enforcer George Parros and sent a clear message with a series of ill-intentioned right hands.

Any hope for sustained order vanished a short time later, though, with one well-timed — albeit poorly positioned — shoulder from Francois Beauchemin. The Anaheim defenseman knocked Nashville center Mike Fisher from the contest — and permanently stoked the emotions — with a heavy, neutral zone hit, which officials ruled was a check to the head.

The result was a penalty-filled affair, which the Predators won 3-0, between teams that last faced each other in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

“They came out and had some big hits and tried to run us out of our own building,” Nashville captain Shea Weber said. “I think guys in here stepped up. We stayed focused. That was good, I think.”

In a contest that included two fighting majors per side and three double minors (two for Anaheim), the Predators were assessed 10 fewer penalty minutes. More important, they put Anaheim on the power play only once — and that lasted 57 seconds before another Duck, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, this case, went to the box.

Therefore, goalie Pekka Rinne made a mere 20 saves — half of them in the second period — as he notched his franchise-record 21st career shutout and became just the second Nashville goalie ever with 100 all-time victories.

“They want it chippy,” coach Barry Trotz said. “They want you to react to the stuff. … A big part of their offense is their power play. Sometimes you have to turn the other cheek and those types of things. You can’t be falling for that trap. It’s part of the thing they do — they want you to react to after the whistle stuff; they want you to react to behind-the-play stuff.

“To me, there’s fighting toughness and there’s mental toughness and character toughness. We showed mental toughness and character toughness.”

Nashville, which outshot an opponent for the first time this season, jumped in front when Patric Hornqvist scored 14 seconds into the contest. Martin Erat, in his return from an injury sustained in the season-opener, made it 2-0 with 61 seconds to go before the first intermission.

Weber capped the scoring early in the third, 32 seconds after Anaheim’s Brandon McMillan was assessed a double-minor for high sticking, an infraction which cost Predators rookie forward Craig Smith a tooth.

“When they score on the first shift, it digs a pretty deep hole for you,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “The first period we seemed like we were a step behind. … We got our game going in the second period and didn’t get anything across the line. In the third, I think we got frustrated, took some penalties and that was the hockey game.”

The primary question for the Predators is when Fisher will play his next hockey game. He missed this season’s first six contests following offseason shoulder surgery but had four points (two goals, two assists) in two appearances prior to Saturday.

According to Trotz, Fisher never went to the hospital but no official information on his status was provided.

“I’m only concerned about his health and hoping he’s OK because I think it was a clean hit — shoulder to shoulder,” Beauchemin said. “Looking at the replay myself, I think he may have hit his head on the ice when he fell down, and that’s probably how he got hurt.

“I’m hoping he’s OK because it’s just one of those fast plays that happens.”

In this case, it was one of several that necessitated a response from Nashville. Defenseman Kevin Klein immediately went after Beauchemin and was given a double minor for roughing. Beauchemin was given two minutes for roughing and two minutes for a blow to the head.

“I thought we stood up well for ourselves,” Trotz said. “There was some chippiness. … It was a chippy game, but we stood up for each other. That was a good sign.

“…You got tested a little bit against a big, physical team. We responded just great.”

Briefly

• With 22 career shutouts, Rinne is now one ahead of Tomas Vokoun. He still trails Vokoun by 61 for the franchise’s all-time mark for wins.

“I’ve played with some good teammates and some good teams, and without that you can’t [set that record],” Rinne said. “Obviously, I realize that.

“Vokie was the man here for a long time and he did so many great things for this organization and helped establish this organization. It’s obviously an honor.”

• Nashville traded center Cal O’Reilly to Phoenix on Friday afternoon. The Predators got a fourth-round pick in next June’s draft for the 25-year-old.

O’Reilly played the first five games this season and 85 in all over parts of four seasons. He originally was a fourth-round selection (150th overall) in 2005.