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Roman Josi’s first career goal helps Preds beat Ducks…

It had been a while but the Nashville Predators finally made hands go up at Bridgestone Arena.

Not since November 17 have the Preds won on home ice. In front of a sell out crowd of 17,113, they beat the visiting Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Saturday.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 15 Ducks shots. With the win, he improved to 12-9-4 on the season.

Former Predator Dan Ellis tended the Anaheim nets and made 25 saves in the loss.

In the first period, the Predators thought they had struck first. After a scrum in front, Colin Wilson redirected the puck into the net with his right skate. While there was no distinct kicking motion, the goal was disallowed and the game remained scoreless.

Neither team got on the scoreboard until the second period. In the opening minutes of the frame, Andrew Gordon managed to get by Preds defenseman Roman Josi by a mere half a step. That was all the space he needed as he put a shot past Rinne for the 1-0 lead.

“The guy sort of counter-hit him,” Nashville Head Coach Barry Trotz explained. “The new technique is to hit the guy before you get hit and he got knocked off balance. There’s a lot moreĀ deceptionĀ in this league and he’s going to have to learn that.”

Nashville thought they had tied the game a few minutes later when Mike Fisher jammed away at a loose puck. The puck slid over the line but it was immediately called “no goal” on the ice as the referee had intended to blow the whistle while Ellis had the puck under his glove.

It was the second time in as many periods the officials waved off a Predators goal.

“Our guys were a little bit frustrated but we (still) felt we were going to win that hockey game,” Trotz said.

The Preds did get the equalizer eventually, however. On an odd man rush, Colin Wilson fed the puck cross ice to Nick Spaling who patiently waited for Gordon to take himself out of position. Once he did, Spaling wristed it past Dan Ellis.

Using a power play, Josi tallied his first career NHL goal to give the Preds the 2-1 lead early in the third. Shea Weber collected the puck along the half boards and dished it up to Josi who was standing at the blueline. He wound up and fired a shot that go through bodies and through Ellis.

“I saw a lot of traffic in front of the net so I just shot it,” Josi said. “It’s nice to get a goal. I’m happy about it.”

“Josi’s been good,” Trotz said about the rookie defenseman. “He’s a good first year player. He’s not too cocky or arrogant. I was real happy for him.”

Minutes later, Kevin Klein made a brilliant pass to a breaking Jordin Tootoo. The off-the-boards delivery gave Tootoo the chance to get behind the Anaheim defense. He drove hard to the net and fired the eventual game-winner past Ellis.

The Ducks found the back of the net one more time before it was all said and done but it was the Predators who were the best team on this night. It was their fifth consecutive win (going back to last year’s Western Conference Quarterfinal) against Anaheim.

Trotz explained his team’s secret to success.

“Playing hard, keeping their stars in check and playing disciplined against them.”

The Calgary Flames are next on the docket for the Preds. Puck will drop on Tuesday night at 7:00pm Central inside Bridgestone Arena.

The teams have traded shutouts in their two previous meetings this season.

* Preds defenseman Jon Blum hadn’t been a healthy scratch in his NHL career before Thursday night’s contest against Columbus. He’s now been scratched twice in a row.
* Anaheim didn’t get their first shot on goal until there was 5:04 left in the first period.
* Brian McGrattan dropped the gloves with George Parros but, in an under card bout, Fisher took on Bobby Ryan as well.
* With his assist tonight, Weber now has 16 points in his last 17 games.
* Tootoo, in his first game back after his suspension, collected two points.
* Fisher is 26-6 in the face-off dot in the last two games.
* Craig Smith was held without a shot on goal for just the third time this year.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 6:30 remaining in regulation):
1) Jordin Tootoo (NSH)
2) Dan Ellis (ANA)
3) Roman Josi (NSH)

1) Jordin Tootoo (NSH)
2) Nick Spaling (NSH)
3) Roman Josi (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // (RICK ROLL!)