The Nashville Predators celebrate after beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in Game 3 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs series Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators took a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Anaheim's general manager accuses the Predators of diving to draw penalties, and Ducks coach Randy Carlyle says check the video.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz dismisses the accusations from a team that racked up hundreds of penalty minutes, noting his Predators are among the NHL's least penalized.
The Western Conference series is getting as hot off the ice as on.
General manager Bob Murray told the Orange County Register on Monday his Ducks would have to start diving like the Predators to draw penalties, which he called "ridiculous." Carlyle said Tuesday the Ducks need more power plays with a 16-12 edge for Nashville skewed by Anaheim getting three in the final minutes of Game 1.
Asked if he agrees with his boss, Carlyle had a short answer.
"I just say the video doesn't lie. That's the only statement that I've got," Carlyle said.
The Ducks have been upset both with the penalty calls and their own play in a 4-3 loss Sunday night as Nashville went up 2-1 in this series. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Nashville, delayed a day by a Lady Gaga concert Tuesday night at the Bridgestone Arena.
Not that the Ducks have any love for opponents this time of year.
"We hate everybody we play in the playoffs," Carlyle said.
Some of the Predators said after practice Tuesday that they hadn't seen or heard of Murray's comments. Trotz twice said he really had no comment while taking his own stab at the Ducks.
"I think it's more disrespectful to the players that are playing in the league," Trotz said.
He defended his Predators as a team that has been disciplined all season, not just the last couple games. The Predators ranked fourth in the NHL in taking the fewest penalties and third in fewest penalty minutes while Anaheim racked up 1,178 penalty minutes for 26th in the NHL.
"In the regular season, they had 500 more penalty minutes than we did ...," Trotz said. "So we've taken a few less than them."
The Ducks did have three different players with more than 100 penalty minutes in Corey Perry (104), Brad Winchester (114) and George Parros (171). Jarkko Ruutu had 97 himself. Compare that to Nashville, and defenceman Shane O'Brien had a team-high 83 penalty minutes during the regular season.
This series has been very physical with the tone set in the third period of Game 1 in Anaheim with a combined 50 penalty minutes. Anaheim had 40 of those, just a minute shy of the most ever by a team in a period. San Jose had 41 penalty minutes on April 13, 2007.
Parros and Sheldon Brookbank each have 14 penalty minutes with captain Ryan Getzlaf having seven himself. O'Brien has 10 penalty minutes.
Trotz noted O'Brien started his career with Anaheim and that the defenceman is working hard to avoid penalties.
"He's done a really good job," Trotz said. "He's toed the Predator line of playing disciplined hockey, staying out of the box. He'll still have a moment or two where he'll take a penalty. For the most part, he's 100 times better than he was three or four years ago."
Several of the Predators claimed not to have heard Murray's comments. Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo, whose physical style prompts fans to blow a train whistle whenever he's on the ice, said he'll leave calls to the officials.
"I'm not going to get in a war of words. I have no time for that. Actions speak louder than words," he said.
O'Brien had heard the talk. He noted Murray has won a Stanley Cup and is well respected in the NHL. He thinks Murray may have been trying to get his Ducks going or try to draw attention away from how Anaheim has played in a series where Nashville has outshot the offensive team in each of the first three games.
The Predators are focusing on their chance to grab control of this series by doing something this franchise has never done in five previous playoff series and go up 3-1. They lost to Chicago a year ago when leading 2-1. O'Brien, who joined Nashville through a trade with Vancouver in October, said he thinks his teammates learned from that experience.
"We think we can play even better. We think we can tighten up our defensive coverage a little bit better and tighten up our discipline," O'Brien said. "We're excited, and we're going to take advantage of the home crowd tomorrow. We need to find a way to get that game down. If it's 2-2 going back to Anaheim, the momentum swings back to them."
Trotz is keeping the approach the same and simple.
"It's a race to four. That's how we have to approach it. Every game we've approached probably the last two months as the most important of the year," Trotz said.
The Ducks expect the two-day break between games to refresh them. They also take some confidence from having scored three goals on a measly 16 shots Sunday.
"We know we can play better," Getzlaf said. "We got beat by a team that outworked us and played hard. You can't accept that by any means in the playoffs, and we'll be ready to go (Wednesday) night."
Notes: The Ducks sent goalie Jonas Hiller back to Anaheim as he works to recover from vertigo. Anaheim brought Igor Bobkov to Nashville.
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