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What we learned from the Ducks' 4-3 win over Nashville

What we learned from the Ducks' 4-3 win over Nashville
Ducks right wing Patrick Eaves scores a shootout goal on Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne on during a March 7 game at Honda Center. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Leave it to the player who looks like a character from "The Revenant" to lead the Ducks out of the wilderness.

The heavily bearded Patrick Eaves does all the things the Ducks have been meaning to do in going to the net, being on the attack and playing with the puck.

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And Tuesday night, he had two assists and the game-winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout for a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators.

The Ducks discovered their forechecking game in the second half of a Jekyll-and-Hyde game they desperately needed to win before a run of three games in four nights against the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals.

Here's what we learned:

The Ducks might have found their second line: Eaves has played with Ryan Getzlaf since he arrived through a trade last month, but Rickard Rakell was moved to wing with them in place of the scratched Ondrej Kase.

The line combined for two goals and four assists. They operate much the same as the line of Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg in that one player cycles the puck, one goes to the net and the other hangs on to the puck.

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle prefers Rakell at center because he wants him to play with the puck more, but Rakell also seems just as effective on the wing. His 27 goals lead the Ducks, and he has five goals in his last five games.

Eaves is paying immediate dividends: He has two goals in four games as a Duck, plus the shootout goal. But his real worth is the willingness to go to the so-called dangerous area.

"He works hard. He's around the puck all the time," Getzlaf said. "And he's around the net. That's one thing that our group was lacking in a way, was just that feistiness in front of the net."

Possession counts a lot: Sunday's loss to the Vancouver Canucks might have been a game in which the Ducks missed suspended center Antoine Vermette's faceoff ability. They were largely neutralized with a slim margin of 26 wins to 23 losses.

But on Tuesday, they won 43 faceoffs against 26 losses. Getzlaf won 19 of 26, a single-game career high in faceoff wins, and Ryan Kesler won 16 of 22.

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