Rookie Craig Smith leads Predators past Ducks 4-2
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Rookie Craig Smith had two goals and an assist, Martin Erat scored on a second-period penalty shot, and the Nashville Predators wrapped up a five-game trip with a 4-2 victory over the struggling Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Colin Wilson had a goal and an assist, and Pekka Rinne made 31 saves in the Predators' fifth win in seven games. Nashville has beaten Anaheim twice this season in rematches of the clubs' first-round playoff series last spring, won in six games by the Predators.
Devante Smith-Pelly got his first NHL goal, and Francois Beauchemin also scored for the road-weary Ducks, who have lost six straight and nine of 10.
Jonas Hiller stopped 28 shots, but the 2011 All-Star lost his fifth straight decision in the Ducks' return from a seven-game road trip for just their fifth game at
Patric Hornqvist added three assists for Nashville.
Smith, the 22-year-old American center who played at the University of Wisconsin last season, capped the second three-point game of his short career with his second goal early in the third period. He banged in a pass from Wilson in front.
With 14 points, Smith has matched the total of Predators scoring leader David Legwand, who missed his first game of the season because of an undisclosed upper body injury sustained in the first period of Nashville's 4-3 loss to the Kings on Tuesday.
Rinne, the Predators' $49 million goalie, had started every game this season until taking the night off in Los Angeles. He beat the Ducks 3-0 in Nashville on Oct. 29, kicking off Anaheim's current losing streak.
After a two-week European road swing to open the season, Anaheim went 1-3-3 on its dismal road trip during a 16-day absence from home, ending with a 5-0 loss at Detroit described by several Ducks as their worst game of the year.
At least the schedule gets much more friendly to the Ducks, who will get on a plane only for a one-day trip to Phoenix during the next four weeks, playing 11 of 13 games at home overall.
Smith scored his sixth of the season just 80 seconds in, banking the puck off Hiller from behind the net. Wilson added his third goal 4 1/2 minutes later, but Fowler's shot through traffic in the final minute of the first period went in off Smith-Pelly's knee.
Fowler leads the Ducks with more than 25 1/2 minutes of ice time per game, but the 19-year-old defenseman hasn't scored a goal in the first 14 games of his second full NHL season.
Erat put a penalty shot past Hiller after Lubomir Visnovsky hit him with his stick on a short-handed breakaway to put Nashville up 3-1, but Beauchemin kept the Ducks close moments later, hacking a loose puck underneath Rinne.
NOTES: Nashville will spend the next two weeks at home during a five-game stand. ... Nashville D Kevin Klein and LW Sergei Kostitsyn both played with undisclosed lower body injuries. ... C Peter Holland originally was credited with his first NHL point with an assist, but it was taken away when Fowler's goal was changed to Smith-Pelly.