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Ducks let a good thing go in 4-1 loss to Nashville

They are frustrated as the nondescript Predators prevail at Honda Center. The defeat comes on the heels of two home victories against top teams Philadelphia and Chicago.

January 05, 2011|By Robyn Norwood
  • Nashville's Jerred Smithson, left, and the newest Duck, Maxim Lapierre, battle for the puck in the first period of Anaheim's 4-1 loss.
Nashville's Jerred Smithson, left, and the newest Duck, Maxim Lapierre,… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

The teams that met in the Stanley Cup finals last year came to the Honda Center to play the Ducks in recent days.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks both left losers, never mind that Ryan Getzlaf wasn't on the ice.

The nondescript Nashville Predators were in town Wednesday, and walked out of the building with a 4-1 victory, scoring two empty-net goals in the final minute.

"Top teams, regardless of who they play or how they played the night before, especially if they've won two in a row, they look to keep the consistency," said Saku Koivu, who scored the Ducks' only goal with 8:14 left in the game.

"They didn't make a lot of mistakes and played a great defensive game, but we just didn't have it tonight. It's a bit frustrating because we had a good thing going."

Pekka Rinne, Nashville's 6-foot-5 goaltender, made 40 saves.

Koivu spoiled the shutout after he won a battle with Jerred Smithson for the puck along the wall, then headed to the net to take a pass from Dan Sexton.

That cut Nashville's 2-0 lead to one goal, but the Ducks couldn't tie the score, even with the help of a power play after Rinne was called for tripping the Ducks' newest player, Maxim Lapierre, in front of the net with 3:47 left.

The Predators rank fourth in the NHL in penalty-killing.

The crowds that nearly filled the Honda Center for the Blackhawks and Flyers — 71 fans shy of a sellout for Philadelphia — were gone. A season-low 12,216 turned out for the Predators.

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller had stopped 105 of the last 109 shots he faced entering the game. But the Predators were credited with sneaking a puck past him in the first period that almost no one saw.

Smithson, who battled in front of the net after an initial shot, was credited with a goal after a lengthy review 5:10 into the game.

"I have no idea how it got in or anything," Hiller said.

Hiller said he was told by on-ice officials that video-review officials in Toronto ruled the puck was "underneath my pad behind the goal line," on the first shot, not after his pad was pushed into the net.

"I don't know how they saw that, but it's part of the game," he said.

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said he didn't have access to footage viewed in Toronto, but "replays that were shown on TV didn't show me where the puck was shot in front and went in the net."

Patric Hornqvist scored Nashville's second goal 3:56 into the second when he got position on Duck defenseman Luca Sbisa in front of the net and redirected Sergei Kostitsyn's pass.

Trying to score late in the third with the lead only one, the Ducks pulled Hiller for an extra attacker with more than 11/2 minutes left. But the Ducks couldn't make good, and Kostitsyn scored an empty net goal with 52 seconds left before Shea Weber scored another when his clearing shot from the other end of the ice went off the wall and into the net with one second left.

"It looked like we were just expecting good things to happen, but we forgot to work for it," Hiller said.

sports@latimes.com

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