Sunday, January 27, 2013 2:20 am
Viktor Fasth wins NHL debut, Ducks beat Preds 3-2
By GREG BEACHAMAP Sports Writer
Even with a high degree of difficulty, the 30-year-old Swedish goalie made a superb first impression on his new fans in Anaheim.
Fasth made 19 saves and stopped all three Nashville shootout attempts to win his NHL debut, and Corey Perry scored the only shootout goal in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Predators on Saturday night.
Fasth got a standing ovation and the first star after surviving a tense evening with the Ducks, who never led until the final horn in their third victory in four games to start the season. Fasth is new to North America, but he's a veteran of the Swedish Elite League who's determined to succeed on hockey's biggest stage.
"I was a bit nervous in the beginning, but once you get out there, you just focus on the puck," said Fasth, who gave up a rebound goal to Brandon Yip on the second shot he faced. "That's my job. You don't think about so much else. The guys in front of me played incredibly good tonight and helped me a lot out there, so that made it easier for me."
After starter Jonas Hiller set a club record and led the NHL with 73 starts in the Ducks' crease last season, Anaheim won the offseason competition for Fasth with a $1 million, one-way contract. Fasth was named the Elite League's top goaltender in each of the past two seasons with AIK Stockholm, the first goalie to win back-to-back Honken Trophies since New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist.
"He's just calm as a cucumber," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I've never been a goalie and never want to be one, but that's the demeanor they have to have to be successful. Even in the shootout, I thought, `Have a cup of coffee and wait for the guy to come down.'"
Daniel Winnik and Bobby Ryan scored for the Ducks, who restored much of the good feelings from their two season-opening victories on the road after getting routed by Vancouver in their home opener Friday night. Ryan's goal with 33 seconds left in the second period ended 99 straight minutes of scoreless hockey at Honda Center for the home team, and Fasth kept the Ducks in it during an eventful third period and overtime.
Pekka Rinne made 20 saves in Nashville's third stop on a seven-game road trip, but the Vezina Trophy finalist dropped to 0-1-3 this season after former 50-goal scorer Perry beat him to the glove side on Anaheim's second shootout attempt.
Nashville got more bad news from its third shootout loss in five games: Goal-scorer Patric Hornqvist left the ice limping badly midway through the third period after getting tangled up with Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf while both players pursued a puck in the corner. Hornqvist is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said afterward.
"He's one of those great guys that brings a lot of energy, and he's about as hard as they come," Trotz said. "It's a little frustrating because we haven't won a shootout, but we're getting points in every game, and you have to collect points, especially on the road."
Nashville had won six straight over Anaheim dating to the clubs' 2011 first-round playoff meeting and 12 of 15 overall.
Legwand and Winnik traded goals 1:03 apart midway through the third period, with Winnik becoming the first Anaheim player to score five goals in the first four games of a season with his tying tip-in. Winnik, a journeyman forward who joined Anaheim in the offseason, has never scored more than 11 goals in any of his five NHL seasons.
"I'm pretty relaxed," Winnik said. "I came into the season not thinking too much, which had kind of been my problem sometimes in previous years. The goals are just products of going to the net. That's been my focus, and when I have a scoring chance, I try and score, as opposed to getting back on the defensive side."
Anaheim couldn't score until Teemu Selanne jarred the puck loose in the corner and got it to Cam Fowler, whose shot from the point was expertly redirected by both Selanne and Ryan, the dependable 30-goal scorer who ripped the Anaheim organization last summer during another offseason of trade rumors.
NOTES: Nashville C Craig Smith didn't get on the ice in the third period because "he's got to play better," Trotz said. "He wasn't ready, plain and simple." Smith scored a career-best two goals in a win at Anaheim in November 2011. ... The Ducks played back-to-back home games just six times in franchise history before this season. ... The Ducks scratched young F Devante Smith-Pelly and inserted rugged F Brad Staubitz for his Anaheim debut. ... Nashville D Jonathon Blum, the Orange County native who played well for the Predators during their playoff series win over his hometown Ducks in 2011, was a scratch for the fifth straight game.