With a whirlwind of buzz around the possible return of Alexander Radulov to the Nashville Predators, the fact that they had a game to play this evening almost seemed an afterthought. With Anders Lindback giving Pekka Rinne the night off, the battle against Jonas Hiller and the Anaheim Ducks was a picture perfect example of why the Predators would love to add the young Russian's scoring talents to the lineup.
Struggling to bring their offense together for the first 40 minutes, the Predators would find themselves burned on the power play by rookie Devante Smith-Pelley, who would work a shorthanded 2-on-1 break with captain Ryan Getzlaf before cleaning up the cross ice pass and firing it through the Nashville goaltender's legs.
Anaheim would work the lead through the end of the first period and the entire second, pushing at the Predators but unable to put another puck past Lindback, while Hiller would see a paltry 16 shots through fourty minutes.
Despite that, the Predators seemed to find a spark in their locker room as they came out to start the third period. Pushing the Ducks back into their defensive zone, a quick flurry of shots would end with Patric Hornqvist breaking his tie with Mike Fisher for the team's goal scoring lead on a quick wrist shot just over a minute into the final frame.
Not to be outdone, Fisher would tie Hornqvist again with his 23rd in the year midway through the period as he redirected a Ryan Suter shot to put the Predators ahead.
The Ducks would attempt to find an equalizer, but the Predators' iron clad defense would come through, preventing the Ducks from setting up and capitalizing in the dirty areas of the ice, then finally drawing a hooking call on Bobby Ryan in the final minute of regulation.
The Ducks would pull Hiller to even the skaters as soon as they could clear their zone, but David Legwand would hit the empty net, sparking an ugly reaction from Corey Perry after the goal that would see him tossed from the game with a misconduct penalty.
The win provides a big boost to Lindback, who has all too often seen the team fail to support his efforts offensively, and moves the Predators into 4th place in the Western Conference as they continue to push for the postseason.