Preds, Ducks floundering ahead of matchup
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ANAHEIM, Calif -- The first regular-season matchup between last season's Western Conference playoff finalists, the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks, finds the teams in an unaccustomed position.
Entering a Friday matchup at Honda Center, the teams are playing mediocre hockey and struggling to find consistency.
Nashville (5-5-2) plays the middle contest of its three-game California road trip after dropping a 4-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. Despite possessing a power play that executes among the best in the Western Conference, the Predators rank next to last in overall goal production.
The San Jose loss was a microcosm of the Predators' early-season play, as Nashville managed only 19 shots and got no production from its forwards. Winger Filip Forsberg is the lone Predator to register double-digit points with eight goals and five assists, with more than half of his production coming on the man advantage (five goals, two assists).
Predators coach Peter Laviolette discussed his team's shortcomings after the San Jose loss. The inability to finish chances and coupled with the propensity to commit penalties resulted in a fourth loss in five games.
"We had opportunities to execute in the offensive zone and we didn't capitalize," Laviolette said. "Not a lot of opportunities for them, but the ones they did get they made the most of. We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with the penalties."
Predators defenseman Roman Josi concurred with his coach, citing the procession to the penalty box as an continuing issue.
"Once again, we took way too many penalties," Josi said. "We had some momentum, we scored on the one shift and then we take two, three penalties and it just kills our momentum. We have to be way more disciplined than that."
Anaheim has been besieged with injuries since the start of the season, but Ducks coach Randy Carlyle refused to use the injuries as the primary reason for the club's 6-5-1 start. The lineup that fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Wednesday was missing Ryan Getzlaf and Kevin Bieksa, both on injured reserve. The Ducks have 62 man-games lost, the most in the NHL entering Thursday and a primary reason the team has played inconsistent hockey through the first month.
The Ducks' normally high-powered offense has struggled with absences of Getzlaf and power-play quarterback Cam Fowler, who is expected to miss three to seven weeks with a knee injury. The Anaheim power play has taken the brunt of the injury woes, converting only 10.8 percent of its attempts, which ranked 30th in the NHL through Wednesday.
With a bit more puck luck, the Ducks could have emerged with at least a point against Toronto, but a potential game-tying goal by Jakob Silfverberg with 1:38 remaining in regulation was waved off due to a distinct kicking motion.
"It looked like he turned his foot, so the referee felt he directed the puck with a kicking motion. If that's the way he deemed it, then it's no goal," Carlyle said. "As far as we are concerned, you can turn your foot, but I don't know if that deems it a distinct kicking motion."
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm was dissatisfied with the defeat knowing his team has to fight through the rash of injuries to stay competitive in the Pacific Division.
"We have to build from this effort," Lindholm said. "You cannot be satisfied not scoring goals. We have to go out and work even harder."
The Swede was sidelined for the first seven games of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
"I'm feeling better and better, but there are parts of my game I still need to work on," he said. "I can be better getting to the puck in my defensive zone, and my shot needs to get through more often to create second chances at the net."
Updated November 2, 2017