ANAHEIM — When thinking of Nashville Predators defensemen, the name Ryan Ellis isn’t the first or second or third name that comes to mind.
The diminutive Ellis, listed at 5-foot-10 (if wearing 4-inch platform heels), made the biggest impression in Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks.
With Nashville down 2-1 nearing the halfway point of the hockey game, Roman Josi poked the puck forward to Ellis who streaked down the ice into the Anaheim zone.
Colin Wilson could be heard calling for the puck all the way up in the press box as they neared John Gibson. The defenseman timed the pass perfectly to the on-rushing Wilson.
Gibson stretched out for the toe save, but the redirection was too quick. Nashville tied the game 2-2.
With a little over five minutes to go in the second, Ellis made the save of the game.
Pekka Rinne, was way out of position giving Jamie McGinn the entire net, and then some, to shoot at. Ellis had the wherewithal to get in behind Rinne and block the shot … with his butt.
BUTT SAVE pic.twitter.com/4DQq6vIO0l
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 16, 2016
“I felt it hit me,” said Ellis after the game. “I didn’t know where it was. I figured lie down and hopefully it’s underneath me. [Pekka Rinne] recovered really well and he ended up covering it. I was there as a last measure.”
What the above GIF doesn’t show is the ingenious play Ellis makes afterwards.
While he’s laying in the net, he reaches back and covers the net cam, giving the off-ice officials one less way to review if the puck crossed the line as he gets up.
RYAN ELLIS FOR CONN SMYTHE. #Preds #NSHvsANA pic.twitter.com/08dJzLnxw7
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) April 16, 2016
Ellis didn’t see it that way, though.
When asked if he intentionally covered up the camera, he said, “No. I didn’t. I was getting pushed into the net, and if the puck was underneath me I didn’t want it to slide in with me. So, I was trying to stop myself from sliding into the net.”
Hmm… sure looks like he’s not moving anymore when he covers up the camera, but no harm, no foul, right? At least we think that’s not a penalty of any sort.
The Ducks wouldn’t find the back of the net for the rest of the game. Filip Forsberg’s third period go-ahead goal stood as the game winner.
Nashville leads the series 1-0. Both teams will be back in action on Sunday.
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