ANAHEIM, Calif. – Mike Fisher had two goals and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 27 saves, and the Nashville Predators clamped down defensively on the high-flying Anaheim Ducks in a 4-1 victory in their first-round playoff series opener Wednesday night.
Steve Sullivan got his first goal since mid-December, and captain Shea Weber also scored for the fifth-seeded Predators, who got off to a great grinding start as they attempt to win a playoff series for the first time in six tries over seven seasons.
Teemu Selanne scored during a two-man advantage with 8:36 to play for the fourth-seeded Ducks, whose late-season offensive surge was no match for the imposing Rinne and Nashville's defensive style.
Game 2 is Friday at Anaheim.
After taking the early lead on Weber's power-play goal, Nashville put it away with the first three-point game in the playoff career of Fisher, the defense-minded forward who arrived in a trade in February after a decade in Ottawa. Fisher's second goal, on a wrist shot through traffic, prompted Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle to pull former Nashville goalie Dan Ellis with 19:04 to play.
Rinne's 6-foot-5 presence at the back of Nashville's defense-oriented system was the biggest reason. The Ducks had five players with more points than Nashville's co-scoring leaders, but they couldn't crack the Predators' Finnish goalie until Selanne scored his 36th playoff goal.
Both teams headed to the playoffs on impressive late-season runs, flying into the upper echelon of the West playoff picture after being outside the top eight. Anaheim finished on a 15-5 streak to rocket all the way into fourth place, while Nashville went 9-2-1 in its last 12 games.
Ellis stopped 20 shots before getting replaced by Ray Emery, who missed Anaheim's last two regular-season games with a lower body injury. Ellis was the Predators' starting goalie during their 2009 playoff run, but lost his job to Rinne last season.
While the Ducks are running out of healthy goalies with All-Star Jonas Hiller (vertigo) still ailing, the Predators got playoff reinforcements, with 50-point scorer Martin Erat (back) and Sullivan (groin) returning from injury absences.
Nashville went ahead 4:13 into the first period when little-used Ducks forward Matt Beleskey committed the first of two first-period penalties. Weber ripped a long slap shot past Ellis for his sixth playoff goal, matching the most in Predators history.
While the Ducks struggled for puck possession and good scoring chances, Sullivan put the Predators up by two goals when he outhustled Francois Beauchemin for a loose puck and scored on his own rebound late in the second period. The goal was Sullivan's first in the postseason since 2004.
Fisher then beat Ellis cleanly over the glove less than 3 minutes later.
NOTES: Nashville scratched C Colin Wilson, who played in all 82 regular-season games, and C Cal O'Reilly, who was activated from the injured list last weekend but hasn't played since breaking a leg on Jan. 2. ... Predators D and Orange County native Jonathon Blum made his NHL playoff debut, picking up an assist on Fisher's second goal. He became the first California born-and-raised player chosen in the first round in 2007. Blum grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, a planned community about 20 miles from Honda Center. ... Anaheim enforcer George Parros and Jarkko Ruutu both got 10-minute misconducts with 45 seconds to play. Sheldon Brookbank got one at the final buzzer.