|CAM FOWLER, Ducks|
|BEST IN CLASS — SCREEN|
The Ducks went down, but they went down valiantly.
If ever a team played a perfect game while still losing, it was Anaheim last night at Bridgestone Arena. With the Predators home crowd in full Rocky Horror midnight-showing mode, Anaheim thoroughly dominated Nashville in each zone and on the shot clock, but not, of course, on the scoreboard.
The 6-3 final score was inflated once again by the spate of empty-net goals which continue to throw scoring columns out of whack. Not counting the two empty-netters, the Ducks outshot the Predators, 41-16. They killed a five-minute penalty off in the first period without allowing a shot on goal with a gun to their head, having already fallen behind, 2-0. And they overcame a 3-1 third period deficit in this most hostile environment before allowing the game-winner to Colton Sissons following a power play of their own.
In fact it was this power play which seemed to throw Anaheim out of its rhythm. Even after Cam Fowler tied the game with 11 minutes left on the third period clock, the Ducks continued to roll through the neutral zone time after time, like waves cresting at the blue line before pounding their way to the front of the Nashville net. But once the Ducks tied the score it was almost as if they took a moment to reflect on their achievement rather than pressing with the same urgency that put the Predators on their heels the entire game.
The letdown led to a blown coverage in their own end, allowing Sissons
the opportunity to bang home a one-timer from the left circle. And if there’s one thing Nashville has demonstrated time and again this spring, it’s that they are opportunistic.
Despite launching 41 shots on net, the Ducks were regularly frustrated by shooting lanes being shut down quickly and their forays not getting through to the goal. When Fowler tied the game at 3-3 a key to the goal was the exceptionally crisp point-to-point pass Fowler’s defense partner Sami Vantanen put on his stick.
That extra zip Vantanen attached to his pass allowed Fowler the fraction of a second to get his shot on net that so many previous efforts from the blue line lacked all night. Meanwhile Corey Perry was setting up in front, his torso completely obscuring the view of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
The execution among the three Ducks needed to be flawless and it was. Vantanen’s pass war right on Fowler’s tape and Fowler launched his shot with no extraneous movements. It flew right between Perry’s legs and under Rinne’s arm to the back of the net.
In a postseason where so many goals scored during crunch time have been fortunate, but the residue of design, this one was pure Xs and Os beauty.
Ultimately it was in vain, as was Anaheim’s exceptional effort in Game 6. But that effort they put forth ought to make the off-season for players and fans alike far more palatable. The 20 players who dressed left nothing on the ice.
|5/22/2017 vs. Nashville|