Los Angeles Hockey: Ray Emery

Kings: This trick couldn't have come at a better time

February, 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- The built-in storyline coming into Saturday night’s game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks was the debut of Kings forward Jeff Carter.

Turns out another right wing, the one who wasn’t traded away this week, stole the show.

Dustin Brown scored his third career hat trick and matched his career-high with four points, leading the Kings over the Blackhawks, 4-0, in front of a joyous sold-out crowd that witnessed its first victory at Staples Center since Feb. 1.

“Things went well for me tonight and I hope to build on it,” Brown said. “We’ve been struggling as a team, and I’ve been struggling personally to score goals, and it definitely felt good to score some goals tonight.”

In his fourth season as team captain, Brown became the object of wide-spread trade rumors Thursday night, the same evening the Kings traded defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Carter.

He was stuck in the unenviable position of attending practice the following morning and then taking questions from a larger-than-normal gathering of media. Brown sat back and answered every one, most probing his knowledge and reaction to the trade rumors.

“I’ve been a King my whole career and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days,” he said. “For me, personally, I probably said this [Friday], with all the rumors flying around, it’s my responsibility to prepare myself to be the best I can. Tonight I felt good.”

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Ducks: Jonas Hiller getting back to old self

September, 19, 2011
HillerJohn E. Sokolowski/US PresswireJonas Hiller, who suffered from vertigo last season, was back between the pipes for the Ducks during a practice session Monday. The photo above was from a game last January in Toronto.

ANAHEIM — Jonas Hiller was back in his familiar workplace Monday morning at Honda Center, patrolling the goal crease in a game-like situation.

Never mind that the other team consisted of fellow members of the Ducks, or that he had little time to warm up before the 60-minute scrimmage, or that he didn’t get much action while rotating with two other goalies, Hiller was just glad to be back between the posts.

Hiller was sidelined with vertigo for much of the second half of last season. He started just three games following his first All-Star appearance in late January, and was pulled early in two after allowing a flurry of goals.

The lack of preparation and activity left Hiller feeling "alright" about his participation in the scrimmage, which was won by Hiller’s opponents, 6-1. That’s a lot better than the way he felt last spring, when his ability to track the puck slipped away in a haze of lightheadedness and uncertainty.

“Still not everything feels exactly the same, but I think it was also like that before,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going right now and I’m definitely looking forward to playing the first game.”

Hiller didn’t know when he’d make his first appearance in a preseason exhibition game, and Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wouldn’t say, but Hiller said the sooner the better.

“I might not mind not going on the road, though,” he said with a smile.

After last season ended with the Ducks losing to the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs, Hiller wanted to get as far away from Honda Center as he could. He went home to his native Switzerland and spent the next three months just relaxing and visiting with friends and family. Other than a week in July, he stayed off the ice until the middle of August.

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It's Gibson and Gibson for Kings and Ducks

June, 25, 2011
The Ducks added some depth to the organization's goalkeeper chart Saturday morning during the second round of the NHL draft. The Kings did too.

The similarities didn't stop there. Both goalies also share the same last name, though they're not related.

Anaheim selected the top-ranked goalie in the draft, John Gibson, with the 39th overall pick. The Pittsburgh native, who will turn 18 next month, helped the U.S. National Team Development Program win gold at the U-18 World Championships in Crimmitschau, Germany last month. He was named the tournament’s best goaltender after finishing 6-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

With the status of Jonas Hiller (vertigo symptoms) still unsettled after missing most of the second half last season, and his replacement, Ray Emery, set to enter free agency July 1, the Ducks needed some depth in the crease, though Gibson likely won't be NHL ready for a couple of years.

The Kings made their first pick of the draft 10 spots later and selected goalie Chris Gibson, a native of Finland who played for Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. Gibson, 18, had a 2.42 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage for Chicoutimi last season.

The draft continues through the seventh round today. Check here for all the results.

Ducks: Looking ahead to the offseason

April, 27, 2011
As the Ducks tie the bow on an entertaining but somewhat unfulfilled 2010-11 season, they face another summer of the unknown. One area of uncertainty has become an annual ritual in Anaheim’s front office, while the other is stumbling block they’ve never encountered before.

Here’s a closer look at the key areas that need to be addressed in the offseason, and the ones that seem fine the way they are.

Teemu SelanneJeff Gross/Getty ImagesWho knows, right? Teemu Selanne could retire and un-retire three times before the All-Star break.
I. Will he or won’t he?

Teemu Selanne heads off on his summer retreat with another heavy decision on his mind. Selanne will turn 41 on July 3, but was the spriest and most productive player on the Ducks during their six-game loss to Nashville in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

After an 80-point regular season, Selanne scored a career-best six goals during the Nashville series and delivered a flat-on-his back assist late in Game 5 that provided the final roar of the season at Honda Center. He showed plenty of durability during his 19th season in the NHL and, most importantly, said he particularly enjoyed the experience.

Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 but it’s very doubtful he’d return anywhere else but Anaheim, where he has spent the last six seasons and 11 overall. The Ducks have made it clear they want him back for another year as well.

But just like his play on the ice, oftentimes Selanne doesn’t really know his next move. He just lets his instincts take over.

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Ducks: Teemu Selanne not showing his age, or cards

April, 26, 2011
Two days after they were eliminated by the Predators in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Nashville, the Ducks held their annual exit interviews Tuesday at Honda Center.

Would this be the last for Teemu Selanne?

Of course, when it comes to retirement, Selanne’s decisions tend to come with a grain of salt. He has un-retired more times than George Foreman, and sat on other decisions well into the next season.

This time around, he chose his words carefully in front of the gathered media.

“I'll let you know when I know something,” said Selanne, who will turn 41 on July 3. “I'll just wait and see how I feel. I don't have to rush."

It'd probably be an easier decision if Selanne didn’t have such a fabulous season, particularly down the stretch, lifting the Ducks into the postseason. He tied a franchise playoff record with six goals against Nashville and scored points in every game.

Her had 10 goals and six assists in the final 11 regular-season games, most coming at crucial moments, and finished with 31 goals and 80 points. Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, but said he wouldn't play anywhere else but Anaheim.

“I've got to be honest, it was so much fun this year,” he said. “That's all you really ask for.”

His teammates noticed as well.

“I think [Selanne] had too much fun this year not to come back,” said Saku Koivu.

Ducks general manager Boy Murray also addressed the media and didn’t hide his intentions with Selanne.

“He's too good to quit,” he said. “I'll do everything in my power to keep him here.”

In other developments, defenseman Toni Lydman and forward Matt Beleskey are scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery Monday, according to Murray.

Lubomir Visnovsky, who broke a franchise record for goals by a defenseman but was not much of a factor in the playoffs, revealed he has been playing with two injured shoulders that prevented him from picking up his young son. He won’t need surgery, however.

Veteran forward Todd Marchant, who will turn 38 this summer, also said he plans to contemplate his retirement plans after speaking with his family.

Ray Emery talked about his whirlwind season.

After sitting out a full year following hip surgery, Emery was signed as insurance when No. 1 goalkeeper Jonas Hiller began experiencing vertigo-like symptoms following the All-Star break. Emery ended up winning a starting role as Hiller’s symptoms lingered and other back ups struggled. He came back from a groin injury late in the regular season and started the last five playoff games.

He woke up Tuesday to learn he had been nominated as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

“It's a nice acknowledgment,” he said.

Emery, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, said he’d like to return to Anaheim but recognizes the uncertainty with Hiller.

“It’s kind of up in the air, as far as what’s going on here with goaltending,” he said.

Murray called Hiller’s situation one of the big question marks of the offseason.

The other, of course, being Selanne.

Ducks: Predators wrap up series with 4-2 victory

April, 24, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 6

Nashville Predators 4, Ducks 2 (Nashville wins series, 4-2)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Predators continued to receive production from a variety of sources Sunday afternoon and the role players were the difference in the series-clinching victory at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

THE STAT: In their sixth trip to the postseason, the Predators won their first playoff series in franchise history.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied, 2-2, early in the third period, Jordin Tootoo drove straight at Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made the save on the close-range shot, but teammate Andreas Lilja crashed into Emery leaving him unable to defend Nick Spaling’s follow up shot with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.

HOT: In what could be the final game of his Hall of Fame career,Teemu Selanne scored the first goal of the game and postseason-leading sixth of the playoffs. Ducks forward Saku Koivu won the face off and Selanne recovered, taking the puck behind Nashville’s net. He came out the other side and beat goalie Pekka Rinne between his legs. Selanne, who will turn 41 in July, just missed a chance to tie the score with about 10 minutes remaining when his shot from the slot hit the skate of Nashville defenseman Shea Weber and went off the inside of the left post.

NOT: Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was on ice for the first two Nashville goals and finished with a team-high three giveaways. The Predators tied the score, 1-1, after knocking Fowler off the puck behind his own net. Tootoo recovered and centered a pass to Spaling who scored the first of his two goals. Spaling had just eight goals during the regular season while playing mostly a third-line role.

GOOD MOVE: The Ducks came into the game with a 35% success rate on the power play during the postseason, best among any team in the playoffs. They didn’t get their first man advantage until late in the second period, but capitalized when Jason Blake tipped in a slap shot from Bobby Ryan to tie the score, 2-2, with 1:37 left in the period.

BAD MOVE: The Ducks pulled Emery with about 90 seconds left in the game to get an extra attacker on the ice, but that move was nullified with Koivu committed a tripping penalty on Sergei Kostitsyn with 37.5 seconds remaining. The Predators then scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.

NOTABLE: Nashville forward J.P. Dumont, who was in the lineup because Martin Erat was still sidelined with an upper-body injury from Game 4, assisted on Steve Sullivan’s second-period goal, becoming the 18thdifferent Nashville player to get at least a point in series. Rinne even got on the score sheet, assisting on Spaling’s second goal to become the 19thplayer to earn a point in the series. Only defenseman Shane O’Brien failed to score at least a point for the Predators.

Ducks: Mistakes allow Predators to steal Game 5

April, 23, 2011

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Ducks were less than a minute away from taking their first lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series Friday night at Honda Center; then they got greedy.

Instead of trying to kill off the last 40 seconds of regulation, the Ducks attempted to score an empty-net goal on the other end. They missed, resulting in an icing penalty.

Then everything snowballed.

They lost the ensuing faceoff in the Anaheim zone, and Predators standout defenseman Shea Weber promptly scored the tying goal with 35.3 seconds remaining.

Nashville maintained the momentum heading into overtime, long enough for the Ducks to make two additional mistakes just less than two minutes into sudden death, allowing Jerred Smithson to score the winning goal in the 4-3 victory.

Now it’s the Predators who have the 3-2 series edge heading to Sunday’s game in Nashville.

“We were 30 seconds away from being in control of this thing,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Now we’re fighting for our lives.”

After the icing penalty in the final minute of regulation, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said he would have rather seen Saku Koivu attempt to tie up Mike Fisher on the drop. Instead, Fisher won the puck cleanly. The puck went to Cody Franson, who passed to a wide-open Weber at the point. He shot through traffic and beat Ducks goalie Ray Emery for his third goal of the series.

“You don’t try to do anything pretty; you just try to push the puck over the blue line,” Carlyle said of the faceoff. “They won it pretty clean. A missed assignment, and the bottom line is their top-scoring defenseman shoots the puck unchecked.”

The Ducks had 15 minutes of intermission to regroup before overtime, but they never had a chance to get back in rhythm. Smithson hammered Ducks rookie Brandon McMillan as he took control of the puck in front of the Ducks' bench.

The puck came loose to Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo, who skated down the left side and behind the net, where he spotted Smithson alone in the slot. Smithson sent a one-timer past Emery 1:57 into overtime, sending the shocked sold-out crowd heading to the exit, wondering whether it's the last time they'll see the Ducks this season.

“We made a mistake,” Carlyle said. “We turned the puck over along the wall and then we made a read and ran out of position and they found the open guy. There was no need for us to run out of position. There was no need for us to turn the puck over in the neutral zone, either.”

Now the Ducks will have less than 48 hours to regroup heading into Game 6 on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT.

“We have our back up against the wall, and a lot of times that brings out the best in guys,” Emery said. “We are going into their building and know they come hard there. We have to be at our best and give it everything. We have one shot at it and have to take it.”

Ducks: Predators score first for 1-0 lead

April, 22, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 5 (Series tied, 2-2)

After the 1st period:

Nashville Predators 1, Ducks 0

The good: Ducks goalkeeper Ray Emery kept the score close in the opening period, stopping nine-of-10 shots, including a couple real good looks by the Predators. The team that has scored the first goal in the previous four games of the series has also scored the second, so Emery has avoided that trend, for now. The Ducks out-hit the Predators, 9-1, in the opening seven minutes, so they definitely set the tone. With just one power play in the opening period, the referees appear to be letting them play, which should favor the Ducks as the game continues.

The bad: The team that has scored first has also won every game of the series. The Predators did the honors in the opening period as a Ducks defenseman Andreas Lilja turned the puck over in the offensive zone, leading to a 2-on-1 going the other way. Jordin Tootoo carried the puck with teammate Kevin Klein to his right and Luca Sbisa defending. Tootoo faked a pass to Klein, causing Sbisa to go to the ice in an attempt to break it up, but Tootoo held the puck an instant longer and then slid it to Klein who was just outside the crease by then. Klein got enough of the rubber to redirect it into the net 8 minutes into the game. The Ducks looked like they’d go on the power in the opening two minutes when Teemu Selanne appeared to get tripped from behind by Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum as he cut into the offensive zone a stride ahead of the defense, but it went as a no call. When the Ducks did go on the power play with about six minutes left, they did absolutely nothing with it. They were out-shot in the period, 10-6.

The in between: Ducks fourth-line enforcer George Parros might have had the best scoring chance of the period. With about 2 minutes left, he got on a shift with top-line center Ryan Getzlaf, who stole the puck in the offensive zone and flicked a backhand off the chest of Pekka Rinne. Parros was right there for the rebound but whiffed. The crowd would have blown the roof off Honda Center if Parros puts that one away.
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 4

Ducks (1-2) vs. Nashville Predators (2-1) at Bridgestone Arena, 5:30 p.m. PT

1. Suspension continues: The Ducks will have to survive another game without winger Bobby Ryan, who was suspended for Games 3 and 4 for stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum late in the Game 2 victory by Anaheim at Honda Center. The Ducks scored three goals without Ryan in his first game out of the lineup but could have used a couple more in the 4-3 loss Sunday afternoon. Ryan was the second-leading goal scorer during the regular season with 34 and notched two in Anaheim’s only playoff win this series.

2. Pike with a twist: Ducks general manager Bob Murray went out of his way after Game 3 to criticize Nashville for its "diving" techniques, which he felt led to some of the 16 power plays by the Predators in this series. The most obvious sell came from Nashville forward Jerred Smithson, who acted like he was struck with a cattle prod when Brad Winchester's stick came near his face in Game 2 (video replays show Winchester's stick never touched Smithson).

3. Hiller heads home: The Ducks have sent goalkeeper Jonas Hiller home from Nashville to resume treatment for his vertigo symptoms. All signs indicate Hiller won’t be back anytime soon, as the further the Ducks get into the playoffs the least likely they’ll want to give their All-Star goalie a test run. Ray Emery is doing the best he can but when the team gets out-shot, 25-5, for nearly two periods, there’s only so much he can keep out of the net. If the Ducks don’t get through this playoff series, the Hiller situation will be one of the big "what-ifs."

4. Getzlaf gets physical: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf had an unorthodox stat line in Game 3. He did not get a shot on goal but recorded a team-high seven hits. He was also minus-two for the game but his fight with Mike Fisher of Nashville seemed to inspire the Ducks, as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit with two Teemu Selanne goals late in the second period. Unfortunately, they didn’t take advantage of the momentum swing. Regardless, it’s pretty safe to say Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would rather his top-line quarterback use his stick more and his body less.

5. Three’s a charm: In their five previous trip to the postseason, the Predators have never won three games in a playoff series, something they can accomplish on their home ice tonight. They led Chicago, two games to one, in their quarterfinal series a year ago, but then fell apart at Bridgestone Arena in Game 4 and lost, 3-0. They didn’t win another game in the series and the Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup title. The Predators are hoping for a big-game performance from goalie Pekka Rinne, who has cooled off a bit since Game 1.

Short-handed Ducks lose to Nashville, 4-3

April, 17, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 3

Nashville Predators 4, Ducks 3 (Nashville leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Playing without second-leading goal scorer Bobby Ryan, who was suspended for two games after stomping on the foot of a Nashville player in Game 2, the Ducks couldn’t overcome a slow offensive start at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and fell behind in the series.

THE STAT: The Ducks were outshot early and often. They didn’t take their first shot on goal until 9 minutes had been played. They had a 25-5 disadvantage with four minutes remaining in the second period and finished with 16 shots on goal, compared to 37 for the Predators.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied, 3-3, and about 10 minutes left in the game, the puck took an unexpected ricochet as it slid along the boards and came right to Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler in the offensive zone. Fowler made a nice move around a Nashville defender, leaving him one-on-one with goalie Pekka Rinne. Fowler slowed up and faked a shot, briefly opening up the left side of the net, but Rinne got a piece of the puck and knocked it away. Less than a minute later, Mike Fisher scored the winning goal for the Predators.

HOT: Teemu Selanne continued his remarkable late-season run, scoring two goals 30 seconds apart late in the second period to tie the score, 2-2, and provide the Ducks some much-needed momentum heading into the third. The 40-year-old winger has four goals in three playoff games and 14 goals in his last 14 games overall.

NOT: The Ducks committed six more minor penalties, resulting in five power plays for the Predators, including one that led to the game's first goal. Anaheim has had to defend 16 power plays in the first three playoff games, allowing four goals.

GOOD MOVE: At the time it didn’t look like a bright move, but captain Ryan Getzlaf's fight with Fisher must have fired up the team because Selanne immediately followed with his two goals.

BAD MOVE: Getzlaf’s lazy pass in his defensive zone during the opening period went right to Jordin Tootoo of Nashville in the slot. Tootoo hit the post with his first attempt but jumped on the rebound and put it past goalie Ray Emery for a 2-0 lead.

NOTABLE: Selanne appeared in his 74th career playoff game with Ducks, setting a new franchise record previously held by Rob Niedermayer.

UP NEXT: Game 4, Wednesday in Nashville, 5:30 p.m. PT.

Ducks: Game 3 on deck in Nashville

April, 17, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 3

Ducks (1-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-1) at Bridgestone Arena, 3 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Ryan sits: If scoring goals against one of the league’s best goalkeepers isn’t tough enough, the Ducks will be without their second-leading goal scorer from the regular season for Games 3 and 4 in Nashville. Bobby Ryan was suspended two games by the NHL on Saturday for stomping on the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum with about 3 minutes left in Game 2. Ryan scored two goals in the 5-3 victory and 34 during the regular season.

2. Ruutu back? With the absence of Ryan, the Ducks will likely reinsert Jarrko Ruutu in the lineup. Ruutu has been racking up the penalty minutes of late but not many points. In fact, he hasn’t made the scoring column since tallying an assist Feb. 27 against Colorado. But the Ducks didn’t acquire Ruutu for his scoring touch. He’s purely a fourth-line agitator and he does that well. He just needs to stay out of the penalty box.

3. Top-line replacement? The other big question in response to Ryan’s suspension is, who will replace Ryan on the top line? Brandon McMillan practiced with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Saturday, so that should be a good indication. McMillan had teamed with Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino on Friday against the Predators and they had one of the best shifts of the game to set up Ryan's first goal, which gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead in the second period. When you’re dealing with Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, however, it’s always safe to expect the unexpected.

4. Outside the box: This probably goes without saying, but the longer the Ducks can stay out of the penalty box the better off they'll be against the Predators. Anaheim hasn’t been doing a good job of that lately, allowing 20 power plays over the last four regular-season games and 11 through the first two postseason games. The Ducks aren't particularly strong on the penalty kill, finishing 19th in the league during the regular season, and they’ve allowed three power-play goals in the first two playoff games.

5. Dangerous Predator: Nashville is best known for goaltender Pekka Rinne and the defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter but a key player to stop up front is Mike Fisher, who has four points in the first two playoff games. Fisher came over to Nashville in February in a trade with Ottawa. In addition to his scoring touch, Fisher was teammates with Ducks goalie Ray Emery for parts of five seasons in Ottawa, so he should know Emery’s weaknesses better than others.

Ducks find answer to Rinne in 5-3 victory

April, 15, 2011
Corey PerryJeff Gross/Getty ImagesCorey Perry celebrates after scoring one of two first-period goals for the Ducks on Friday.

ANAHEIM — If the Ducks hoped to even up the Western Conference quarterfinal series and guarantee a return to Anaheim, they had to find a way to get the puck past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

They succeeded in more ways than one, scoring on a 5-on-3, a man advantage and twice at even strength to knock off the Predators, 5-3, in Game 2 at Honda Center on Friday night.

The Ducks move on to Game 3 on Sunday in Nashville with the best-of-seven series tied, 1-1.

The Ducks received goals from their top four scoring threats. Corey Perry scored on a 5-on-3 in the first period and Teemu Selanne followed with a man-advantage goal less than a minute later.

After the Predators cut the deficit to 2-1 with a power-play goal early in the second, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf scored even-strength goals later in the period to give the Ducks a 4-1 lead and some much-needed breathing room against Rinne, who limited Anaheim to one goal in a Game 1 loss.

Nashville managed to cut the deficit to 4-3 in the third period, but Ryan scored into an empty-net goal with 52.6 left to seal the victory.

Ducks goalie Ray Emery made his first start since leaving midway through a regular-season game April 6 with a lower-body injury. He stopped 31 shots for his 19th career playoff victory.

More to come from the locker room.

Ducks: Getzlaf, Ryan give Anaheim 4-1 lead

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 2

After the 2nd period:

Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 1

The good: First of all, Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky returned at the start of the period after leaving in the first following a collision with teammate Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks gave up a power-play goal to get their lead trimmed to one, but a great shift by the third line of Matt Beleskey, Brandon McMillan and Nick Bonino wore out Nashville and the Ducks caught them on a line change. Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was standing at the blue line near the wall opposite the benches. He shot the puck at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne as Bobby Ryan cut to the net. Rinne made the initial save but Ryan pounced on the rebound and put it in the net for a 3-1 lead 7:12 into the period. Getzlaf then got into the act, jumping on a loose puck in front of the Nashville net and firing it past Rinne for a 4-1 lead with 4:06 left. Rinne hasn’t allowed more than four goals in a game since November. Can’t move on without mentioning Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made his first start since April 6, when he left midway through a 6-2 victory against San Jose with a lower-body injury. Emery has stopped 24 shots, including a handful that were jaw-dropping efforts.

The bad: Ducks enforcer George Parros let his anger get the best of him early in the period after he was taken down by Jerred Smithson in front of the Nashville bench. He went after Smithson, even though it appeared Smithson wanted nothing to do with him. Parros earned a four-minute roughing penalty, while Smithson was given just two minutes, and the Predators promptly scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 15 minutes left in the period.

The in between: Looking ahead to the next round, it appears top-seeded Vancouver won’t have any trouble advancing past Chicago in their quarterfinal. The Canucks just went up, 2-0, in the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Ducks: Pieces in place for Game 2

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 2

Ducks (0-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-0) at Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Emery is the manRay Emery got the nod to start in goal following the morning skate.'He missed the final two regular season games and did not start the playoff opener due to a lower-body injury. He replaced Dan Ellis early in the third period Wednesday night after Ellis allowed four goals on 24 shots in the 4-1 loss. The last time Emery replaced Ellis and went on to start the next game, he won six in a row. The Ducks could sure use another streak like that.

2. Rush hour – Leading up to Game 1, the Ducks talked a lot about getting traffic in front of the net to screen Pekka Rinne's view as pucks sailed toward him at 120 mph. Turns out, the only goalie they screened was Ellis. Rinne, second in the league during the regular season in save percentage and third in goals-against average, said after the game he had no problem seeing the pucks. Ellis, on the other hand, said three of the goals by Nashville were the result of screens or deflections.

3. Depth decisions – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle might think twice when he pencils in his lineup tonight. He stayed with left wing Matt Beleskey for the opener but Beleskey was whistled for two penalties in the opening eight minutes. The first led to a power play goal by Nashville and a 1-0 lead, which turned out to be the winner. Carlyle could try scrapper Kyle Chipchura, or a more-skilled option in Nick Bonino, who played 26 games for the Ducks this season before he was assigned to the AHL and recalled for the playoffs.

4. Ground Hog’s DayCorey Perry may want to request that the Ducks not host Nashville on a Wednesday night next season. The team’s leading scorer produced similar numbers to a Wednesday night in early January, when Anaheim lost to the visiting Predators by the same 4-1 score. Perry, who led the league with 50 goals this season, finished with no points in Game 1 for just the second time in the last 13 games, four shots on goal and a minus-three rating. In the loss in January, he finished with no points, five shots on goal and a minus-three rating.

5. More injury news– Along with Emery, it appears defenseman Francois Beauchemin is good to go after missing Thursday’s practice with a lower-body ailment that has been nagging him a while, Carlyle said. Beauchemin played his usual minutes in Game 1 but, like most of his teammates, didn’t have an impact. Though he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations he set as a member of the Ducks during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2006-07, his experience in playoff games is a big plus. It was pretty obvious during Wednesday’s game that Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was struggling with puck management, which could be the result of the postseason nerves.

Ducks: Ray Emery takes another step forward

April, 14, 2011

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle isn't one to reveal his starting goalkeeper until after the game-day skate, but he was candid Thursday morning when asked about the availability of Ray Emery for Game 2 of the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal Friday night against the visiting Nashville Predators.

"He practiced this morning and if he gets through another practice ... I'd say Ray Emery is pretty much close to 100 percent," Carlyle said.

Emery missed the final two regular-season games because of a lower-body injury but was well enough to replace starter Dan Ellis early in the third period Wednesday night against the Predators.

Emery was solid in mop-up duty after Ellis allowed four goals on 24 shots in the 4-1 loss at Honda Center.

"You'll take all the reps you can get when you're trying to come back from something," Emery said. "You don't want to go into the game under those circumstances but it's a game-by-game basis right now for the team and for me."

Heading into the All-Star break, Carlyle never envisioned he'd be deciding between Emery and Ellis in a playoff series. Neither player was even on the team at that point. Emery wasn't even in the NHL.

But starter Jonas Hiller began feeling vertigo symptoms shortly after returning from his first All-Star appearance. The Ducks signed Emery as insurance, then traded for Ellis after Hiller's symptoms continued to linger and his backup, Curtis McIlhinney, couldn't cut it as a full-time goalkeeper.

Ellis started seven consecutive games from Feb. 25 to March 11, posting a 5-1-1 record, but was then pulled after allowing four goals in two periods of a 5-2 loss March 13 against visiting Phoenix.

Three days later, Emery made his first NHL start in more than a year and proceeded to win six straight before losing two in a row earlier this month. Emery then skated off the ice midway through a 6-2 victory last week against San Jose, complaining of a lower-body injury that he said was unrelated to the hip surgery that sidelined him for a year.

Ellis took over for the final two regular-season games, limiting the offensively challenged Kings to one goal in each game, and Anaheim won both to leap from seventh to fourth place and earn home-ice advantage for the first round.

Ellis couldn't continue his streak against the Predators, however, and Anaheim no longer has home-ice advantage.

"Three of the goals, they used either their own guys or one of our guys as screens or deflections," Ellis said. "I've got to find a better way to find those pucks and give myself a better chance to make those saves."

Emery, who made his last playoff appearance as the starting goalkeeper for the Ottawa Senators when they lost to the Ducks in the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, said it's good to be back in the NHL again and especially rewarding to be experiencing the playoffs.

"To come back and play like that was special," he said. "The playoffs are a whole different thing. ... It has been a long time."