VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Adam Hall didn't want to look back at the
end of the season and wonder what could've been.
Hall scored with 22 seconds left in regulation and while goaltender Tomas
Vokoun was pulled for an extra attacker, giving the Nashville Predators a 2-2
tie with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Nashville has 80 points, equaling a franchise record and moving the
Predators into a seventh-place tie with St. Louis for the final playoff spot in
the Western Conference, one point ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles.
``Maybe this one tie is going to be the point that puts us over the edge and
into the playoffs,'' Hall said. ``Hindsight is 20-20, you sit down after the
season and say `If we just had a tie here or a win here it would have been the
difference.' You really never can tell until the very end.''
That was the case Tuesday for the Canucks, who appeared to catch a break
when Kimmo Timonen's point shot rang off the post with 26 seconds left. But
Vancouver couldn't clear the zone, and Timonen got another chance to shoot. Dan
Cloutier got in front of the second shot, but the rebound bounced straight to
Hall who snapped a shot into an unguarded net.
``The puck hit Cloutier and just happened to drop right in front, Hall said.
Andreas Johansson also scored for the Predators, who are winless in six
games, but have picked up four points in that stretch.
``We've played some tough games and we re getting points, Tomas Vokoun said
after making 25 saves, including a breakaway stop on Martin Rucinsky with five
seconds left in overtime.
``Every point is huge for us.
Ryan Kesler and Trevor Linden scored 38 seconds apart midway through the
first period as Vancouver moved within five points of Northwest
Cloutier made 25 saves for the fourth-place Canucks, three points up on
Dallas in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
``Look on the bright side of it, we picked up a point on Colorado tonight
and we didn't lose a point on anyone we're chasing,'' Canucks coach Marc
Vancouver finished 3-0-1 against Nashville this season and hasn't lost to
the Predators at home since Jan. 23, 2000, a span of eight games.
Johansson opened the scoring 6:45 in with a harmless looking shot off the
boards that bounced in off defenseman Brent Sopel as he battled Hall in front.
But Matt Cooke took turns setting up new linemates Kesler and Linden on the
same shift four minutes later to give the Canucks the lead.
First, Cooke one-touched a pass from Linden in the high slot to Kesler
cutting across the crease. The 19-year-old rookie waited for Vokoun to go down
before tucking in his second NHL goal at 9:36.
The line stayed on the ice, and Kesler started another scoring play with a
between-the-legs pass to Cooke behind the Nashville net. Cooke threaded a pass
through the crease to Linden driving the net, and he tipped the puck behind
Vokoun at 10:14 for his first goal in 17 games.
``Down 1-0 and struggling a bit, that shift alone was a big momentum boost
and changed the game around,'' said Kesler after recording two points in 38
seconds to match his career total from the previous 21 games.
Kesler appeared to secure the win when he knocked the puck off Vladimir
Orzagh's stick to save a goal during a wild scramble in the Canucks crease with
five minutes left. But the Predators never stopped believing they could come
``At certain points during the season we've been down by a goal or a couple
of goals and there's just a feeling in this locker room,'' Hall said. ``Nobody
is talking, just looking around at guys and looking in their eyes and it's kind
of an eerie quiet sometimes.
``Nobody is worried, something is going to happen.''