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Palmieri's hat trick leads Ducks over Rinne, Predators

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Off a start that ranks among the best in team history, just about the only gripe with the Anaheim Ducks' first 17 games was a lack of early scoring.

Not that it has mattered much this season. The Ducks are 8-2-1 when the opponent scores first, after starting 0-8-1 last season.

Not that it mattered Wednesday, as Anaheim bum-rushed the visiting Nashville Predators within minutes of the opening faceoff.

The Ducks scored twice in the first four minutes and added a third first-period goal as they jumped all over hot Nashville goalie Pekke Rinne in a 5-1 win Wednesday at Honda Center.

Rinne entered the game as the hottest goaltender in the NHL during February, leading the league with an 8-3-1 record, a 1.58 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

By the time Kyle Palmieri had converted his first career hat trick, Rinne was incensed, chucking his stick against the Nashville bench early in the second period.

Palmieri flustered, flummoxed and just plain beat the Finnish goalie three times, as the Ducks' first line came up big time and time again. After Anaheim's Nick Bonino kicked off the scoring just 2:48 into the game for his fifth goal of the year, Palmieri scored three straight times over the next two periods.

"I'm always looking to score, whether I don't have a goal or I have two," Palmieri said. "Some nights they go in for you, other nights you end up on top saves of the week."

"For sure I didn't help in the beginning," Rinne said. "The puck just bounced high and I took my eyes off the puck and, next thing you know, they make a plan in an empty net and we're down right away, 1-0. ... You try to balance yourself right away, but obviously once they got that second goal right after that -- he made a pretty nice play, that Palmieri -- it was a tough way to start a game for sure."

On all three scoring plays, Palmieri picked up clutch assists from the smoldering duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, who have come alive after the Ducks' lower lines helped carry them through the early part of the season.

"It's great when you can get that line going," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It sort of brings energy to the rest of the lines. I was happy for them."

Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth rebounded from his first career loss Monday at the Los Angeles Kings -- which followed an 8-0-0 start to his career -- by allowing just one goal: a beautiful wrist shot by Craig Smith off a pass from Kevin Klein midway through the second period.

"He (Fasth) made a big save early, when it was 1-0 or something, and it could've given them energy," Boudreau said. "That was a big turning point. You get that big save at the right time and it really helps."

NOTES: On Tuesday, Anaheim recalled Emerson Etem from Norfolk and reassigned Peter Holland to the AHL team. ... Nashville's Hal Gill (lower-body injury) missed the game, but Paul Gaustad played despite being questionable with an upper-body injury. ... The Ducks defeated the Predators 3-2 in a shootout Jan. 26 at Honda Center in Fasth's first career start. Fasth moved to 8-0 to start his career with another 3-2 shootout win over the Predators on Feb. 16 in Nashville. ... The Ducks also won 11 games in March 2006, when they went 11-4-1, and in March 2011, when they went 11-3. ... Rinne entered the game with three shutouts in his previous nine starts. ... Anaheim's seven straight home wins, the longest active streak in the NHL, are its most since Jan. 2012. ... The Predators have played in overtime an NHL-high 10 times in their first 21 games. ... Nashville coach Barry Trotz is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL at more than 14 years and 1,086 games and he trails San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich among coaches in the four major sports. ... Anaheim is one of three teams in the NHL that have 10 players with four or more goals this season. ... Three Ducks rank among the top 15 in the NHL in plus-minus rating: Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray, tied for second at plus-13, and Koivu, tied for 12th at plus-10.
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