The Nashville Predators smothered the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena 5-2 on Sunday. Austin Watson netted his first career hat trick, joining Colton Sissons, Filip Forsberg, and Calle Jarnkrok on the hat trick list this year.
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The rivalry between the Ducks and the Predators is no laughing matter. A physical, dirty game from start to finish, both teams racked up a total of 32 minutes in the penalty box.
Watson began the scoring for the Predators. After Sissons won the face-off in the Ducks zone, Bonino wired a shot at Gibson. The puck dropped behind Gibson, where Watson whacked it into the virtually empty net.
As the second period began, the Ducks drew a penalty. The puck found Henrique’s stick, and he slung the puck through Rinne to tie the game. Bonino responded with a snipe of his own, and the Predators regained the lead. As tempers flared, Nashville began their fourth power play attempt. Josi slapped one from the blue line, Watson tipped it home, and the lead expanded to 3-1. As time was about to expire, Kase buried a slot shot, deflating the Predators’ momentum and bringing the game back to one goal.
Smith chipped the puck over Gibson’s pads on a Predators power play, and the Predators reclaimed a two-goal lead. In the waning seconds of the game, Gibson was pulled. Ellis cleared the puck, Watson chased it into the Ducks zone and wristed into the empty net.
The power play and penalty kill have been extremely productive for Nashville as of late. Since the Predators last played the Ducks on November 12th, the PK has killed off 24 of their last 26 penalties. Nashville’s power play struck twice against the Ducks.
With this win, the Predators move to 17-6-1 with 35 points. This is the fifth win against a Pacific Division rival. They have one loss outside of the Pacific Division.
Four players from the Predators have netted a hat trick this year. The Predators are the only team in the NHL with four hat tricks already- the Boston Bruins are right behind them with three.
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To put this into perspective, three of the four hat tricks have come against a Pacific Division team (Forsberg against Edmonton, Jarnkrok against LA, Watson against Anaheim)
Ekholm has been a big team player lately- four assists in four games. Josi has also been helping his teammates out with two assists in his last four.
P.K. Subban missed his sixth straight game, Viktor Arvidsson still has at least five weeks to go on the IR, and Kyle Turris was put on the IR. The three are major offensive contributors- all of them together combine for 41 points.
Five skaters have tried to fill the void of Arvidsson. The Predators are now in another bad position with the absence of Turris. Calle Jarnkrok filled the role against the Ducks.
Also, Ryan Hartman has a tendency to make people mad, but he really got under Josh Manson’s skin.
-Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for FullPressCoverage.com and PenaltyBoxRadio.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15 and the Full Press Predators at @FPC_Predators