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Ducks lose sixth in row, 4-2 to Predators

Francois Beauchemin and rookie forward Devante Smith-Pelly score, but Craig Smith cashes in twice for the Predators.

November 09, 2011|By Lisa Dillman

The kids, cutting against conventional — if not accepted — wisdom, were not the biggest problem for the Ducks in their latest loss, a long list of defeats.

Rookies and other newcomers to the Ducks' system weren't the ones getting outworked on goals, often beaten to the puck at key junctures in the Nashville Predators' 4-2 victory Wednesday night at Honda Center.

The Ducks' winless streak stands at six games, and Anaheim has won once in its last 10 outings. It became a fight against the record and discouragement when Nashville's first two shots went in the net.

"It's hard. It's definitely hard. Our guys did a good job answering back," center and captain Ryan Getzlaf said.

"We're letting each other down with little mistakes. It's costing us. … It's the toughest patch we've gone through as a group."

Rather than the youth floundering, it was solid, usually reliable veterans having a night to forget at Honda Center, most notably center Saku Koivu, who was a minus-two. Koivu was on the ice for three of the Predators' four goals, and was a minus-three.

The other Nashville goal came on a penalty shot by Martin Erat in the second period. Rookie center Craig Smith, who played two seasons for former NHL player Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin, scored twice and had an assist to lead the Predators. They were his sixth and seventh goals.

Jonas Hiller had made the save on Erat's short-handed effort, which came under pressure from Lubomir Visnovsky. The call, you might say, was somewhat questionable.

"Obviously, I have a biased opinion on if it should have been called or should not have been called," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "If they're going to call penalty shots for people slashing the stick or pushing on the hand and not hooking, then there will be a lot more penalty shots in the league this year."

The Ducks' scoring came from rookie forward Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman Francois Beauchemin. It was Smith-Pelly's first NHL goal, coming with 39 seconds remaining in the first period.

The goal was credited to defenseman Cam Fowler, but that was changed after the game after it was determined the puck went in off Smith-Pelly's knee.

The first Nashville goal was symbolic of how the evening unfolded for the Ducks. Smith scored on the Predators' first shot, banking in a shot off Hiller's right skate. Afterward, the Ducks talked about how the quick goal,

1 minute 20 seconds into the game, deflated them.

"We have to will some pucks across the line, and that really is the exclamation point of where we're at," Carlyle said. "Our will right now hasn't been demonstrated for 60 minutes and we have to find a way to do that."

He finished his post-game session with reporters answering a question about Koivu's struggles. Koivu had been sick with the flu and missed practice Monday.

"I don't think he is at the top of our game, as are a few other players," Carlyle said. "We're looking and we say we've got to be better and we've got to do this and we've got to do that. … We're a little bit road weary but that's not an excuse."

Then he added, tapping his chest: "That's got to come from here. That's got to come from the heart."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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