NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the Anaheim Ducks locker room after their 6-3 win against the Predators on Wednesday night, Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf asked teammate Corey Perry if he knew who Vince Gill was.
Gill is the Music City-based country star who, as he performed during first intermission, invited the Bridgestone Arena fans to chant, "Perry is a sissy."
Perry seemed oblivious, but, regardless, something was motivating the right wing, the League's only 50-goal scorer during the regular season and a leading candidate to win the Hart Trophy.
Perry broke a 3-3 tie with a shorthanded goal 1:17 into the third period and added a pair of assists to take the playoff scoring lead with 8 points. More important, he helped the Ducks send their conference quarterfinal series against Nashville back to Southern California all even at two wins apiece.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said Perry's performance was further proof of the special season his linemate is having.
"He's always scored big goals for us at big times, and your big guys have got to be your big guys in big games," Getzlaf said. "He's been doing (it), like you said, all year and we expect nothing less come playoff time."
Several Anaheim players cited the fact of having two days off between games as helpful following Game 3's 4-3 loss – a game of which Getzlaf said: "We weren't happy with our effort that we put forth." On Monday, the Ducks canceled practice, completely unplugged from hockey and just had a lunch outing together.
"Nice day off the other day," Perry said. "Get away from the game. Clear your mind. It's always nice when you get to do that during the playoffs."
Perry started the game off on the right foot for Anaheim, assisting on Cam Fowler's power-play goal at 4:41 of the first period. The Ducks scored 33 seconds later, forcing Nashville to call a timeout.
Going into the third period, the score was tied at 3-3. Nashville earned a power play at 19:28 of the second when Nick Bonino was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass from his defensive zone.
Nashville had a chance to take its first lead of the game, but Perry turned the tables on the Predators.
Coach Randy Carlyle called it "a special player making a special play."
"We know that in these situations that big-time players are paid big-time dollars and expected to deliver in big-time situations," he said.
Perry almost seemed tickled at the notion that his backhander might have fooled Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. The shot almost seemed a sort of misdirection play, with Perry taking advantage of the screen that teammate Brandon McMillan set by driving towards the net as Perry lightly tossed the puck into the short side.
"I mean, I don't know if I fooled him," Perry said. "You've got to look at what Mac did, driving the middle lane, going to the net, taking (Nashville defenseman Shea) Weber with him."
After that momentum-changer, Perry added his final assist on Getzlaf's goal at 4:51 of the third period. Nashville had been whistled for a delayed penalty and Getzlaf circled down low and with plenty of time, beat Rinne.
"They never quit, we know that, and even when we got up a couple, we still know they're going to come at us," Perry said. "They're a team that never says die and they just keep plugging away."