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Nashville at Anaheim

Fisher scores two, Predators take Game 1 in Anaheim

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Pekka Rinne stuck out his gangly right leg just in time to block Teemu Selanne's point-blank early scoring chance with his pad, the Anaheim Ducks realized exactly what they're up against in the playoffs' first round.

The 6-foot-5 Rinne and his Nashville Predators are a defensive puzzle that not even the high-scoring Ducks could solve in their opener.

Mike Fisher had two goals and an assist, Rinne made 27 saves, and the Predators clamped down defensively on Anaheim in a 4-1 victory Wednesday night.

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Steve Sullivan got his first goal since mid-December, and captain Shea Weber also scored as fifth-seeded Nashville got off to a great grinding start. The Predators haven't won a playoff series in five tries over the previous six seasons, but their defensive prowess has them up 1-0 on the road for the second straight year.

"That's our game, and you saw how we like it," said Rinne, whose Predators also held a 1-0, first-round lead on eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago last spring. "We like to play solid defensively and then score when there's an opportunity. It's not complicated, but when we do it the right way, we're pretty good."

Game 2 is Friday in Anaheim.

After taking the early lead on Weber's power-play goal, Nashville put it away with the first three-point game in the playoff career of Fisher, the defense-minded forward who arrived in a trade in February after a decade in Ottawa. Fisher's second goal, on a wrist shot through traffic, prompted Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle to pull former Nashville goalie Dan Ellis with 19:04 to play.

"They're a good offensive team, so we had to make sure we played solid on both ends of the ice," Fisher said. "We want to push forward, and not sit on our heels. When we do that, we can make it tough for even a good offensive team like that."

Selanne scored during a two-man advantage with 8:36 to play for the fourth-seeded Ducks, whose late-season offensive surge was no match for the imposing Rinne and his defense. The Ducks hadn't scored fewer than two goals in their last 16 games, but NHL goal-scoring champion Corey Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf were thoroughly shut down - often by Weber and Ryan Suter, Nashville's star defensive pairing.

The Ducks' frustration boiled over into 40 penalty minutes in the third period, including three misconducts in the final minute. Perry also repeatedly tried to get his stick into Rinne's pads, drawing Nashville's ire.

"Their whole game kind of takes its toll and gets you out of your rhythm," Getzlaf said. "If we can move our guys around and get out intensity up, that will help. It was hard to get momentum. We gave up that goal in the first period, and we were fighting back the whole time."

Nashville went ahead 4:13 into the first period when little-used Ducks forward Matt Beleskey committed the first of two first-period penalties. Weber ripped a long slap shot past Ellis for his sixth playoff goal, matching the most in Predators history.

The Ducks had five players with more points than Nashville's co-scoring leaders, but they couldn't crack the Predators' Finnish goalie until Selanne scored his 36th playoff goal.

"We just didn't have it," Perry said. "We weren't on our game, and we weren't executing. You don't expect to have a game like this, but that's why there are seven games in a series."

Both teams headed to the playoffs on impressive late-season runs, flying into the upper echelon of the West playoff picture after being outside the top eight. Anaheim finished on a 15-5 streak to rocket all the way into fourth place, while Nashville went 9-2-1 in its last 12 games.

Ellis stopped 20 shots before being replaced by Ray Emery, who missed Anaheim's last two regular-season games with a lower body injury. Ellis was the Predators' starting goalie during their 2009 playoff run, but lost his job to Rinne last season.

While the Ducks are running out of healthy goalies with All-Star Jonas Hiller (vertigo) still ailing, the Predators got playoff reinforcements, with 50-point scorer Martin Erat (back) and Sullivan (groin) returning from injury absences.

"Our top players were our best guys tonight," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "The guys were really focused. I saw great commitment all over the ice. ... There's some lessons in our past, but they're serving us well this year."

Sullivan put the Predators up by two goals when he outhustled Francois Beauchemin for a loose puck and scored on his own rebound late in the second period. Fisher then beat Ellis cleanly over the glove less than three minutes later.

Notes

  • Nashville scratched C Colin Wilson, who played in all 82 regular-season games, and C Cal O'Reilly, who was activated from the injured list last weekend but hasn't played since breaking a leg on Jan. 2.
  • Predators D and Orange County native Jonathon Blum made his NHL playoff debut, picking up an assist on Fisher's second goal. He became the first California born-and-raised player chosen in the first round in 2007. Blum grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, a planned community about 20 miles from Honda Center.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Patric Hornqvist looks to track down Shea Weber (not pictured), who beats goalie Dan Ellis with a long slap shot. (AP)
Patric Hornqvist looks to track down Shea Weber (not pictured), who beats goalie Dan Ellis with a long slap shot. (AP)

Scoreboard
Nashville  (1-0) «1214
Anaheim (0-1)0011
Three Stars
M. Fisher
NSH


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
P. Rinne
NSH


Saves: 27
Save Pct.: .964
S. Koivu
ANA


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
04:13Power Play - Shea Weber (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Fisher, Suter
2ND PERIOD
15:16 - Steve Sullivan (1), Tip-In. Assist: Franson, Geoffrion
18:08 - Mike Fisher (1), Snap Shot. Assist: Hornqvist, Klein
3RD PERIOD
56.0 - Mike Fisher (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Blum
11:24Power Play - Teemu Selanne (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Koivu, Getzlaf
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
03:11Beleskey, 2 min, Cross-Checking
05:53O'Brien, 2 min, High-Sticking
08:05Beleskey, 2 min, Boarding
2ND PERIOD
01:10Selanne, 2 min, Tripping
12:39O'Brien, 2 min, Interference
3RD PERIOD
02:43Brookbank, 2 min, Holding
07:33Winchester, 2 min, Roughing
09:30Geoffrion, 2 min, Cross-Checking
09:30Sbisa, 2 min, Slashing
09:50Legwand, 2 min, Hooking
10:28Perry, 2 min, Slashing
10:28Klein, 2 min, Roughing
10:28Klein, 2 min, Roughing
15:48Ward, 2 min, Hooking
19:15Parros, 10 min, Misconduct
19:15Ruutu, 10 min, Misconduct
20:00Brookbank, 2 min, Roughing
20:00Brookbank, 10 min, Misconduct
Shots On Goal
 123T
NSH814830
ANA881228
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Pekka Rinne58:58271
Dan Ellis40:56204
Ray Emery19:0460
Game Information
Attendance - 17174
Referees - Kevin Pollock, Chris Lee
Linesmen - Ryan Galloway, Pierre Racicot
 
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