After losing the third longest game in franchise history, the Canucks are in Music City USA for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi Finals against the Nashville Predators.
Chris Higgins (1g), Alex Burrows (1g), and Ryan Kesler (1a) lead Vancouver in head-to-head scoring while Ryan Suter (1g,1a), Matt Halischuk (1g), and Martin Erat (1a) lead the Preds. The Canucks are 0-for-6 on the power play while the Predators are 0-for-9.
Goaltending has definitely been the story to this point in the series. Roberto Luongo has put together a .970 save percentage over the first two games while Pekka Rinne, who has been the 1st star in both games, is sporting a .968 Sv%.
The Canucks may welcome back Sami Salo into the line-up tonight after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury. He practiced with the team for the first time yesterday since being forced to leave Game 6 of the Chicago Blackhawks series. Cody Hodgson also could return to game action in place of Victor Oreskovich. In yesterday’s practice, Hodgson centred a line with Tanner Glass and Mikael Samuelsson while Alex Burrows was back skating with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Saturday’s 2-1 loss in double overtime by the Canucks was their first loss in the post season when leading a game after two periods. During the regular season, Vancouver went 38-0-3 when leading after 40 minutes. The Canucks have also scored only four third period goals in the playoffs. During the regular season, their most productive period was the final frame (100 GF).
Of all the teams who remain alive in the post season, the Canucks have the worst road record (1-2) and the lowest away goal totals (8). Vancouver split their two games with the Predators at the Bridgestone Arena this season with both games finishing 3-1. Lifetime Vancouver’s record in Nashville is 14-10-1.
The Predators are not likely to make any changes after winning their longest game in club history. With his overtime winning goal, Matt Halischuk became the 8th Predators player this year to record at least two playoff goals. Prior to Game 2, Halischuk was best known for scoring the overtime winning goal for Canada in a 3-2 victory over Sweden in the 2008 World Junior Championships.
Not only are the Predators the only team in the NHL playoffs to have allowed two short handed goals against but they are also the only team to have conceded a short handed goal against on the road.
Nashville has just one forward and one defenceman on their roster that are minus players in the post season. David Legwand is -1 while Shane O’Brien is -2. For what it’s worth, O’Brien is the only Nashville player who has yet to register a point in this year’s playoffs.
It will be interesting to see which team takes the most advantage of having two full days off in between Games 2 and 3. During the regular season, the Canucks went 15-4-1 in games after two-or-more days rest while the Predators went 12-10-3.