Predators beat Ducks to advance to 1st semifinal

Predators beat Ducks to advance to 1st semifinal

April 24th, 2011 in Local Regional News

NASHVILLE - Nick Spaling scored his second goal of the game at 4:53 of the third period and the Nashville Predators closed out their first postseason series victory to advance to the Western Conference semifinals, beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Sunday.

Steve Sullivan scored a goal, David Legwand had an empty-netter and Jordin Tootoo assisted On Spaling's goals. The Predators won the series 4-2 in their sixth postseason in seven seasons.

Jason Blake scored a power-play goal, and Teemu Selanne also had a goal for the Ducks. Anaheim looked tired early after blowing a lead late before losing Game 5 in overtime. They looked tired late as coach Randy Carlyle went heavily with his top two lines trying to rally.

Anaheim lost in the opening round for the third time in seven playoffs.

The fifth-seeded Predators must wait and see who they play next.

Spaling scored his first two goals in the postseason. His second came off a rebound of Tootoo's shot, shortly after Nashville thought it had gone ahead only to have Patric Hornqvist's goal waived off because of a high stick. The call was upheld after a length video review

The Ducks didn't go away easily, not with a power-play unit that has been the NHL's best this postseason. They got the man advantage almost midway through the period when Mike Fisher was penalized for tripping.

But Selanne hit a post, and Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne stopped Blake late to protect the lead. Nashville, the team built from the goalie out through its defense, finished off the win.

Anaheim took its timeout with 60 seconds left, having already pulled goalie Ray Emery, who kept the Ducks close by stopping Tootoo on a breakaway, then Matt Halischuk on a rebound. But Legwand scored into the empty net with 9.2 seconds left to wrap up the Predators' biggest win ever.

Carlyle started the game with Matt Beleskey on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Bobby Ryan found himself on the third line with Brandon McMillan and right wing Dan Sexton in his first playoff game.

Jarkko Ruutu also played after sitting out his one-game suspension and only dressed six defenseman after having played seven at times this series.

The Ducks had a 2-on-1 chance in the opening minute, but Cam Fowler couldn't handle the bouncing puck off a pass from Perry. Then the Predators kept the play in front of Emery, outshooting the Ducks 6-2 before Selanne skated around the net and flipped a backhand past his fellow Finn, Rinne, with 9:38 left in the first for a 1-0 lead.

Tootoo helped set up Spaling for the tying goal with 27.9 seconds left in the first, finding Spaling for a wrister past Emery.

Sullivan put the Predators up 2-1 when he broke up the right, used his skate to kick a pass from J.P. Dumont to his stick and then beat Emery with a backhander at 3:29 of the second. Dumont played his second straight game in place of Martin Erat, scratched because an upper-body injury after the hit that earned Ruutu his suspension.

Emery protected that lead when Francois Beauchemin high-sticked Matt Halischuk to put Nashville on the power play. Emery somehow knocked away the puck with the paddle of his stick on Predators defenseman Ryan Suter's shot into an open net.

Carlyle put Ryan back with Getzlaf and Perry in the second, trying to generate more offense. The Ducks spent much more time in front of Rinne, but they finally got the break they needed when Dumont tripped Luca Sbisa and gave them their first power play.

Blake tipped in a shot by Ryan in tying it at 2 with 1:37 left in the second.