(Photo by: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
The Canucks and the Predators left defense in the dressing room as they played to an entertaining 7-4 final. While the Preds didn't have the lead all game, and we're actually only tied for about 5 minutes, they continuously pushed to keep themselves relevant. They scored four goals in back to back games which is pretty much unheard of in this organization. This is the second time they lose this season despite scoring 4 goals, the first time being against Colorado on February 18th.
The last time Vancouver played Nashville it ended in a 1-0 game with minimal offense. The Canucks have excellent goaltending and matched against Nashville's good defense and Pekka Rinne, low scoring games are basically a given when these two teams meet. Tonight, however, was the exception. They combined for three goals in six minutes, and four in the first period.
The Canucks opened up the scoring within two minutes of the puck drop when Ebbett took a pass from Hansen and slotted it past Rinne. In the past, Rinne has oddly struggled in Vancouver, and this opening wasn't promising. A goal so early in the game can be very deflating, especially for a road team. But Matt Halischuk tied it up on an individual effort less than two minutes later. Halischuk now has points in consecutive games since returning back from the AHL. Vancouver jumped back in front immediately courtesy of an Edler point shot with no traffic that beat Rinne when it really shouldn't have. Three goals in six minutes had the fans buzzing. The first five minutes also saw Kevin Klein drop the gloves, joining Ryan Ellis in the category of defenseman who have fought recently be almost never do.
Hey, speaking of Ryan Ellis, he had an absolute nightmare tonight and it started on the Canucks third goal. After the game slowed down to a normal pace. and Rich Clune tango'd with Dale Weise, Ellis found himself pinching in the offensive zone and losing the puck. The Canucks broke out with a 3 v 1/3 v 2 (it looked like a 3 on 1 to me, but most people called it a 3 on 2). Ebbett carried the puck in, passed it across Hansen to Raymond who hammered it passed Rinne. Although not Rinne's fault, it was the 3rd goal on 10 shots.
It was 3-1 going into the second, but Vancouver picked it up early. At the end of the powerplay, Ellis found himself pinching up and overplayed the puck again. Weise got it and fired it up ice to Lapierre who was leaving the box. On the breakaway, Lapierre went through the wickets on Rinne, making it 4-1. It was the end of Rinne's night. He wasn't playing particularly bad, but he wasn't playing well. His early exit also makes him likely to start against Calgary tomorrow.
The Preds answered though. Spaling took a pass from Boychuk and lifted it over Luongo's pad. It was a nice play from a line that had been pressing hard all night. It was Boychuk's second point with the Preds.
Vancouver beat Mason before the period was over. Well... they were at least credited as doing so. Ellis lost the puck in the offensive zone (are we seeing a trend yet) and Hansen picked it up, motored by Hannan and put it on Mason. It looked like Mason made the save, but Ellis slid into him pushing part of the goalie into the net. Hansen celebrated, and the reff pointed for a goal, although Mason enthusiastically disagreed. They went upstairs and the replay showed 0 trace of the puck. So they ruled the video inconclusive and the call on the ice would hold up. Seemed odd ... but those are the rules.
Starting the period down 5-2, only the most optimistic were still on board. But as Lane Lambert said, the Predators weren't playing too bad. They weren't giving away a bunch of chances ... just really good chances from time to time.
Fisher brought the deficit to just two with 14 minutes still left in the third. This was after Weber had an open cage but got robbed by Luongo's paddle, and before a good fleury of chances on the powerplay. Halischuk got an assist on the play, for his second point of the night and his third since returning from Milwaukee.
Bourque made things really interesting with just under five left to play. He took a legwand pass and put it into an open net to bring the game within one. Bourque is the leading scorer on the team, just two goals ahead of injured Colin Wilson.
Vancouver took it back right away courtesy of a Henrik Sedin penalty shot. Sedin, who was 0 for 3 this year, went left, right, left, right and left on Mason, who was dizzy by the time the puck crossed the line. The Canucks then got their seventh goal on the empty net.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne
#30 Chris Mason
#1 Roberto Luongo
Predators Scratches: #7 D Jonathon Blum (Healthy), #18 Chris Mueller (Heathy), #31 Paul Gaustad
IR: #27 Patric Hornqvist, #33 Colin Wilson
Stars Scratches: #4 Keith Ballard (Healthy), #18 Cam Barker (Healthy), #29 Tom Sestio (Healthy)
Guts but no Glory: It was great to see the Preds rally throughout the game to stay in it. That's what this team has needed all season. They went down early and bounced back immediately. They went down again and clawed their way back into it. This season the team has quit when the going gets tough. They had plenty of opportunities to do so tonight. There were a couple of decisions that, if not controversial, were at least deflating. At the two minute mark the Preds gave up a penalty shot to Henrik Sedin who had a sick move on Mason. It was 6-4 with two minutes left. Trotz immediately pulls Mason for the 6-4. The Canucks hit two posts before finally finishing one on a 3 vs 1. The one defender back was Kevin Klein, who sprawled on the ice to try to block the pass or shot. That's some heart! That's what we need. Let's bring that every game.
Erat and Sergei are invisible: That title is a lie ... it would probably have been better if Erat was invisible. He had a terrible game. He registered 1 shot (Halischuk and Smith had 4 each), gave the puck up consistently and didn't shoot when he had the chance. By the third period he was barely seeing any ice time, for good reason. Kostitsyn also had 1 shot, but I literally don't remember him being on the ice, except when he was unable to keep the puck in at the point. I don't know what it's going to take to get these two players back in it. Along with Legwand and Fisher, our veteran players just aren't doing it for us. Trotz needs to do something. It might have to be drastic like sitting Erat for a game; or at least significantly altering ice time. There is no reason that Kostitsyn and Erat should be getting 18 minutes a game when Bourque, Halischuk and Smith are actually doing good work and seeing more time on the bench. Bourque is leading the team in goals for goodness sake, put him on the top line. Shake things up.
Goals and Assists
1-0 VAN: Andrew Ebbett - Jannik Hansen, 1:25 in the 1st
1-1 NSH: Matt Halischuk (Unassisted), 3:53 in the 1st
2-1 VAN: Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev, Henrik Sedin, 5:20 in the 1st
3-1 VAN: Mason Raymond - Adrew Ebbet, Jannik Hansen, 18:07 in the 1st
4-1 VAN: Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise, Mason Raymond, 5:32 in the 2nd
4-2 NSH Nick Spaling - Zach Boychuk, 6:01 in the 2nd
5-2 VAN Jannik Hansen - Andrew Ebbett, 13:48 in the 2nd
5-3 NSH Mike Fisher - Matt Halischuk, 6:38 in the 3rd
5-4 NSH Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand, 15:41 in the 3rd
6-4 VAN Henrik Sedin (Penalty Shot), 17:26 in the 3rd
7-4 VAN David Booth - Maxime Lapierre (Empty Net), Dale Weise, 18:23 in the 3rd
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Jannick Hansen - 1 goal, 2 assists
2. Andrew Ebbett - 1 goal, 2 assists
3. Matt Halischuk - 1 Goal, 1 Assist