NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hate is a word that should not be used lightly and used only when it is apt.
But when it comes to the level of malevolent behavior that’s shared between Ducks and Nashville Predators whenever they meet on the ice, hate is a word that’s become part of the lexicon in an increasing bitter series.
The latest get together on Saturday night saw only four minutes expire before the first bit of rough play broke out, with the Ducks’ Andrew Cogliano – not known for physical aggression – objecting in combative fashion to Predators star Filip Forsberg falling over his goaltender.
It wasn’t an isolated moment. It only kicked off 60 minutes of shoves, jabs, chops and punches.
“We don’t like them in particular,” Ducks center Chris Wagner said. “You can see it when we play the Kings every time. A couple other teams. I don’t know. We have that kid on our class that we don’t get along with. That’s them.”
But hate? Well, the 3-2 shootout win by the Predators at Bridgestone Arena brought back memories of the acrimonious six-game Western Conference finals. Or even this season’s first meeting at Honda Center, where six of the eight penalties were either of the slashing or cross-checking variety.
“It gets pretty heated up,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. “It’s borderline between if it is fair hockey or not. It’s going to get nasty at times, but those are fun games and you get ready for those. I feel like since a few years back, we have had some history with Anaheim over the years and over the playoff series.
“It’s gotten to a point where I feel like they don’t really like us and we don’t really like them so it’s a good setup for a good match.”
Corey Perry took a moment to consider the word. And then he let out a slight smile.
“It’s definitely real,” Perry said. “I think you look at games where we’re involved emotionally. Involved physically. Those are our better games. And tonight’s no different. It was an emotional hockey game right from the start.
“It’s carried over for a few years. It’s been there and it’s continuing to grow.”
The Ducks have reason to be bitter. They’ve seen the Predators get over on them time and time again. Three playoff series – the only three postseason matchups between the two – have all gone their way. Two in the last two springs.
But the vitriol is something the Ducks often use as fuel. Working on the second night of a back-to-back after a…