What we learned from the Ducks' 5-2 win at Nashville

What we learned from the Ducks' 5-2 win at Nashville
Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) is congratulated by teammate Rickard Rakell after scoring a goal against the Predators on Thursday night in Nashville. (Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

Embarrassment is a mighty motivator.

The Ducks absorbed two tremendous blows to their ego last week in getting outscored by a combined 10-4 in consecutive losses to San Jose and Chicago.

Thursday, it didn’t matter that captain and points leader Ryan Getzlaf suffered a pre-game lower-body injury and was absent from a road showdown with the fellow NHL points leader Nashville Predators.

Anaheim won convincingly, 5-2.


“We knew who we were playing, what was at stake, that it was a big game,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We feel fairly good. We know we’re going into a tough building [Friday at Washington]. There’s not a lot of room for celebration when you know you still have four more games on the road.”


Rickard Rakell steps up his game

The team undoubtedly wants Getzlaf back as soon as possible, but what Rakell did in his absence is worth noting.

The 21-year-old center had two assists, including a Getzlaf-inspired drive to the net and split-second pass that set up Matt Beleskey’s 20th goal of the season.

Rakell now has 14 assists this season, and began the game playing with first-line right wing Corey Perry.

Looking to start fast

On paper, it was a great suggestion.

Boudreau knew Nashville’s league-MVP-candidate goalie Pekka Rinne was back after being sidelined since Jan. 13 with a knee injury.

He then watched Rinne scuffle through pregame warmups.

Instead of hammering the point home to jump on the gifted goalie early, Boudreau missed the point. He had a good excuse with the Getzlaf injury fallout to tend to.

"I didn't make a point of [wanting to start quick], but watching him in warmup, there were areas he wasn't stopping the puck like he does," Boudreau said. "I had it written down to say it. I didn't say it -- to get on him early because he might be a little rusty."

Jakob Silfverberg took care of it, beating Rinne to a loose puck and backhanding in a short-handed goal just 3 minutes, eight seconds into the game.

More for Beleskey's breakout season

Beleskey's career year is at 20 goals with 30 games left.

"It's always fun scoring goals and to get that 20 mark -- nice benchmark," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep going."

Just another game Friday in Washington?

Boudreau has at least mentally circled Friday's game on the calendar.

The Washington Capitals fired him in 2011 after a coach-of-the-year award and three other seasons with 48 or more victories.

Boudreau returned in glory last season when defenseman Hampus Lindholm scored a game-winning goal in the third period.

Now he comes back with the NHL's points leader.

His feelings?

"Just a regular game … what do you want me to say?" Boudreau said. "It's good to be back and see your friends and stuff like that, to see the surroundings that were friendly at one point.

"But they'll want to beat us as badly as we'll want to beat them."