Los Angeles Hockey: Ryan Suter

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.

Third line brings some charm to the Ducks

April, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM — Before the start of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle talked about the importance of his role players stepping up against Nashville.

For about 60 seconds Friday night in Game 2 at Honda Center, the third line of Brandon McMillan, Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino did just that, dominating the Predators in the offensive zone to set up a key goal in the 5-3 victory, tying the series at 1-1.

After cycling the puck and pounding away at Nashville’s top defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Predators couldn’t get off the ice fast enough to get some fresh bodies in the game.

They didn’t get on quick enough, as Francois Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was camped out at the blue line. Getzlaf fired a shot at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne who made the stop, but Bobby Ryan was in position to send the rebound into the net for a 3-1 lead.

It was the first even-strength goal allowed by the Predators in the series and seemed to deflate them less than three minutes after they had cut the deficit to one.

“It was a heck of a shift by three young guys,” Ryan said. “They controlled the pace of the play right through that entire shift. ... They were so tired, five guys had to change. One guy was left out there. It was kind of a freebie for me. I’ll take it.”

McMillan and Beleskey said Carlyle called for his third line when Weber and Suter jumped on the ice.

“We just wanted to wear those guys down so the big guys would have a little more room up there,” Beleskey said. “That’s what we need to do and it looked like it helped them. If we’re cycling and wearing guys down, it’s creating momentum and it’s creating offense for our team. It’s a big part of our game.”

Beleskey is just 22 years old, McMillan is 21 and Bonino will turn 23 next week. Bonino was making his Stanley Cup playoff debut, while Beleskey and McMillan made theirs in Game 1. For Beleskey, his first playoff game wasn’t that memorable, as he committed two penalties in the opening eight minutes, leading to a power-play goal by the Predators in their 4-1 victory.

“We didn’t play them a tremendous amount, but we played them enough that they got a taste of playoff hockey,” Carlyle said. “I thought they did a heck of job for us.”

Good time for a history lesson after 4-1 loss

April, 14, 2011

ANAHEIM — The Ducks have been in this position before. Maybe not this early in the playoffs, but they’ve certainly had to scramble back after an embarrassing postseason performance.

The Ducks lost the opening game of the Western Conference quarterfinals Wednesday night against the visiting Nashville Predators, a frustrating 4-1 defeat before an equally impatient sold-out crowd at Honda Center.

Four years ago during their magical run to the Stanley Cup title, the Ducks lost the opening game of the Western Conference finals, 2-1, against the Detroit Red Wings. Four days later they were flattened at home, 5-0, to fall behind in the series, 2-1.

Those losses became footnotes after Anaheim won the title three weeks later.

“It’s not all doom and gloom here,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Ducks will have two days to regroup for Game 2 back at Honda Center on Friday. In the meantime, they need to figure out a way to get the puck past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who was perfect except for a two-man advantage goal by the Ducks with a little more than eight minutes remaining.

By then it was over.

“We just didn’t have it,” said Corey Perry, who was held without a point for only the second time in the last 13 games. “We weren’t on our game and weren’t executing. ... You don’t expect to have a game like this, but that is why there are seven games in a series. You come out, win the next one and it’s all tied up again.”

Just like four years ago. Behind a goal and two assists from Teemu Selanne, the Ducks bounced back in Game 4 to win, 5-3, and didn’t lose to the Red Wings again.

“You're going to win and lose in the playoffs,” said Ryan Getzlaf, another member of the 2007 championship team. “Every game is going to be a battle. We know we’re in for a long series. Our execution level definitely has to go up for the next game.”

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Ducks: Not same song, dance vs. Nashville

April, 12, 2011

ANAHEIM — Please step forward Anaheim Ducks and meet your polar opposites.

When the Western Conference playoff race finally ran out of games last weekend and the Ducks — through a combination of success and other team’s failures — leaped from seventh to fourth place, they found themselves matched against the fifth-place Nashville Predators beginning Wednesday night at Honda Center.

Nashville, unlike the Ducks, hasn’t spent the last week wondering who will start in goal and how long he’ll last between the posts.

Up front, they couldn't be more different. The leading scorer for the Predators has 23 goals. Corey Perry of the Ducks has more than twice that many.

And when it comes to the postseason, Nashville has never advanced past the first round in four appearances, owning an overall mark of 6-16. The Ducks have advanced past the opening series in five of seven postseason appearances, including a run to the Stanley Cup title in 2007. They are 51-39 in playoff games.

Numbers and personnel aside, several of the Ducks said after practice Tuesday that the key, simple as it sounds, will be out-working the Predators from start to finish.

“We’re going to have to be prepared, when that puck drops, to be giving 110 percent,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “There’s no room for error.”

For all his skill and finishing ability, Perry said the key to generating offense will be forcing the Predators to chase the puck in their defensive zone and then slowly wearing them down on the forecheck.

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Ducks: Jonas Hiller doesn't last long in his return

March, 24, 2011
Nashville Predators 5, Ducks 4

Eight keys to game:

THE FACTS: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller didn’t make it through the opening 12 minutes in his first game back after missing 19 of the last 20 because of vertigo-like symptoms. Hiller gave up three goals in nine shots against the Predators, and the Ducks couldn’t make up the difference in the loss at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

THE STAT: The Ducks could have jumped three spots in the Western Conference standings with a victory and a loss by the Kings against San Jose later tonight. Instead they’ll remain in eighth, one point ahead of ninth-place Dallas. Nashville, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Kings and Chicago with its fifth consecutive victory and now sits in fifth place.

TURNING POINT: Hiller made four saves in the first two minutes but was bitten on the fifth shot on goal by the Predators, a wrist shot from five feet by Sergei Kostitsyn at the 2:04 mark. About nine minutes later, the Predators scored two goals 19 seconds apart. Hiller was done for the night and the Ducks were in big-time catch-up mode.

HOT: Take your pick between Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. Perry scored two more goals to give him 42 on the season and move to within one of Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay for the league lead. Perry also had an assist to give him 13 points in the last eight games. Selanne scored the other two goals, giving him four in the last three games. Unfortunately, the Ducks drew within a goal with just 27 seconds left, not enough time for Selanne to score the tying goal late in regulation for the third consecutive game.

NOT: Anaheim rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa was a season-high minus-four for the game with a team-high three giveaways.

GOOD MOVE: To get an extra attacker on the ice, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle pulled Dan Ellis from goal with just under three minutes remaining and the Ducks trailing by two. He got the goal he wanted, just too little too late.

BAD MOVE: What was Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter thinking as he kicked the puck out of the air in the final minute? He ended up booting it over the shoulder of his goalie, Pekka Rinne, cutting the deficit to one. If Rinne doesn’t win the Vezina Trophy for top goalkeeper honors this season, Suter won’t be getting a Christmas card. You have to also question whether Hiller was ready for this game.

NOTABLE: Both of Selanne’s goals came on the power play, giving the Ducks five extra-man goals in the last three games and Selanne has three of them.

UP NEXT: Saturday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. PT

Kings: Two-goal lead doesn't last long

January, 6, 2011
After the 2nd period:

Nashville Predators 3, Kings 2

The good: We mentioned in the game preview the success both teams have had when scoring first. Well, the Kings did the honors against Nashville. Unfortunately, they’ve lost the last two games after taking a 1-0 lead and things aren’t going well tonight. Marco Sturm, playing his first game on the third line with Kyle Clifford and Jarret Stoll, took a shot at Nashville goalkeeper Anders Lindback and the puck was rebounded out to Clifford, who back-handed it into the net 2 minutes 16 seconds into the second period. Stoll, who like Sturm, was demoted to the third line before this game, gave the Kings a 2-0 lead when he scored on a power play with 12:03 remaining, his first goal since Dec. 2. The Predators have been aggressive attacking the puck when a man down, and the Kings made them pay when Ryan Smyth found Stoll wide open in the slot.

The bad: Talk about a buzz kill at Staples Center. After taking the two-goal lead, the Kings gave up three straight goals in a 5 -minute span. Just nineteen seconds after Stoll scored, Clifford took a hooking penalty and the Predators made the Kings pay as Ryan Suter appeared to wind up for a shot, but instead passed to Colin Wilson on the right side of the net and he one-timed the puck past Jonathan Bernier. Just over a minute later, Wilson took a shot on goal and a long rebound came off Bernier and went directly to Marek Svatos who hit nothing but net. The Predators went on their second power play of the game after Matt Greene was called for interference and Wilson made the Kings pay again, blasting a shot just inside the left post. The Kings, who were No. 1 in the league on the penalty kill heading into their last game against the Flyers, have allowed four goals in the last six man-advantage situations. The Kings must be watching too many Ducks’ games. The Kings haven't blown a two-goal lead and lost since April.

The in between: After the third goal by Nashville, Kings forward Wayne Simmonds took out his frustrations on Francis Bouillon and bloodied his nose with several straight rights. Bouillon is the fourth Nashville player to head to the locker room for treatment. It was easily Simmonds best fight of the year, but the Kings didn’t seem to generate much energy from his effort.