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WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

Ducks can't get net gains in Game 1 loss to Predators

Nashville's 6-foot-5 goalie Pekka Rinne is in top form during a 4-1 victory over Anaheim.

April 13, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Ducks goalie Dan Ellis looks over his shoulder at a second-period goal scored by Nashville center Mike Fisher during the Ducks' loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Thursday at Honda Center.
Ducks goalie Dan Ellis looks over his shoulder at a second-period goal scored… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

The Ducks tried to sell themselves on the idea.

"Goalies are goalies," Ryan Getzlaf said. "The best thing we can do is throw rubber at him."

Their coach all but aided and abetted in those thoughts.

"It's a four-by-six net you have to cover," Randy Carlyle said. "You're not going to do that entirely unless you're a sumo wrestler dressed in hockey gear."

Well, goalies aren't just goalies and, when the rubber hit the Stanley Cup playoff road, the Nashville Predators did seem to have a sumo wrestler in net.

Photos: Game 1 ? Ducks vs. Predators

The Predators' 4-1 victory in Game 1 at Honda Center on Wednesday was thorough, with all the finesse of an abattoir. But the Grade A performance in Nashville's Sunday-night-meatloaf style was 6-foot-5 goaltender Pekka Rinne.

"He's the reason that they are here," the Ducks' Corey Perry said. "He has brought them a long way."

Then Perry offered the standard post-loss cliche, saying, "We just need more traffic in front of the net and more shots."

About the only positive note for the Ducks was they attracted enough fans to call this a sellout, though at least 200 tickets were freebies, handed out by a radio station Wednesday morning. Appropriately, with Nashville in town, it was a country and western station.

Rinne was worth the price of admission, though he was a sore sight for Ducks fans' eyes by the end of the game. By the time the Ducks beat him, the Predators were leading, 4-0.

"There was too much individual stuff out there," defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky said. "That was not a team game."

While pregame bravado came to some in the Ducks' dressing room, others knew what Rinne could have in store for in the series opener.

"Last year, I had a two on one and I thought I had an open net to shoot at," Teemu Selanne said before the game. "Then this leg came from somewhere. He's like an octopus back there."

Selanne went down memory lane in the first period. A cross-ice pass had him again shooting at an open net. But Rinne stretched his leg to the right to block the shot to preserve a 1-0 lead.

"There used to be the joke that goalies weren't really athletes," Selanne said. "There are now."

Carlyle was confident research had provided the answers prior to the game, saying, "We think we found some holes in the things that he does."

Rinne stopped 27 shots.

"We can take from this the fact that we did get one past him," Getzlaf said.

Yeah, a Selanne chip shot with the Ducks on a two-man advantage. Rinne chewed up everything else.

It helped that the Predators grind-and-hack style made every opportunity labor-intensive.

"Ducks hockey is sometimes a little too open," Selanne said. "We have to play smart."

They didn't.

Matt Beleskey took an offensive zone penalty three minutes into the game. Shea Weber converted that into a 1-0 lead with a shot from the point.

Steve Sullivan gave the Predators a 2-0 lead five minutes into the second period and the Ducks crumbled. Mike Fisher scored twice, both innocent-looking shots that beat goaltender Dan Ellis.

Ellis started in goal with Ray Emery recovering from a "lower-body injury," which in hockey-speak can be anything from a hangnail on the little piggy to an amputated leg.

After Fisher's second goal, Emery was healthy enough to come off the bench, leaving who will start in Game 2 an open question.

The Predators have no such decision to ponder.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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