2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 - Anaheim 6, Nashville 3 – Series tied, 2-2
If anyone tells you they know how the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators are going to resolve their best-of-seven battle in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’re selling you a false bill of goods. Just when one team seems to have a handle on the situation and just when a pattern seems to be emerging, conventional wisdom gets turned on its head.
The Anaheim Ducks are particularly glad this is the case, because on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Music City U.S.A., they defied the odds and dug out a must-have victory without a core player. Corey Perry's shorthanded goal at the 1:17 mark of the third period put Anaheim ahead for good and the Ducks then pulled away from Nashville to tie their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at two games apiece. Anaheim escaped the state of Tennessee with a split of Games 3 and 4 despite missing key cog Bobby Ryan for both tilts due to a two-game suspension. Game 5 is Friday night in Anaheim, with Ryan, the point-producing forward, set to return to the lineup.
The Ducks got off to a fast start scoring the first two goals of the game. Cam Fowler scored first on the man advantage at the 4:41 mark. Just 71 seconds later, Saku Koivu – who has gotten a new lease on hockey life in Southern California after playing under the withering scrutiny and pressure of Montreal - netted one past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who has not been on top of his game in this series.
> Find a nice selection of Anaheim Ducks merchandise & follow the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs here at ProHockey-Fans.com!
The Predators answered with a goal 31 seconds after the Koivu strike when Patric Hornqvist scored at the 5:45 mark, and the first period ended with a score of 2-1. Nashville tied the game at 2-all with a power play goal by Joel Ward at the 5:44 mark of the period, but if you thought that the Predators had turned the corner in Game 4, you thought wrong. The Ducks answered with a power play goal of their own by the ageless Teemu Selanne at the 11:41 mark. The Preds did even the score by tallying the final goal of the second period, as Matt Halischuk found the net at the 14:15 minute mark, but when the two teams skated off the ice and prepared for the final 20 minutes, an offense-first template had been established, and that’s what Anaheim wants in this clash.
The final period was the Corey Perry show, as the Ducks stepped on the afterburners and left the Predators in the dust. Perry scored his shorthanded goal before anyone’s seat was warm in the third, beating a number of patrons who were probably still emerging from the concession-stand lines. Then at the 4:51 mark of the period, under four minutes after his tiebreaking goal, Perry assisted on a goal scored by his linemate, Ryan Getzlaf. The Nashville crowd didn’t have a chance to fully get behind its team; the Predators and their fan base were stunned by the two-punch combination that ensured a Game 6 in this entirely unpredictable series.
The final goal of the period and the game was scored by Brandon McMillan at the 6:46 mark, as Anaheim captured a Bobby Ryan-free win that many hockey pundits didn’t think the Ducks would achieve. Now this is a best-of-three series. Both teams have established their brand of hockey in two games. It’s anybody’s guess what will happen in Game 5.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
Want to add your comment to this article? Leave your comments on our NHL blog today!
> Find all of the NHL news & articles online from Pro Hockey Fans.