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Preds nip Canucks 6-5 in high-scoring affair

by Kevin Woodley /
VANCOUVER -- In a game featuring sizzling-hot goaltender Cory Schneider – the NHL's Second Star last week – and Vezina Trophy finalists Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne, lesser-known Nashville backup Anders Lindback stole the show, and the win.

On a night when the goal-challenged Predators scored more than in the previous four contests combined to end a 1-4-1 slide, coach Barry Trotz still wasn't happy.

It was just that kind of evening in Vancouver.

Lindback was the best of the four goaltenders who played, stopping all 19 shots before Mike Fisher scored his second of the game on a 2-on-1 with 1:16 left to finish off a crazy 6-5 win for the Predators and halt a five-game winning streak for the Canucks.

"It was a strange game," Trotz said. "We'll get out of here really, really quiet because I don't think we deserved to win."

They got their second win in seven games thanks to a 3-for-3 night from the power play and a great relief outing by Lindback, who made several great saves -- and had two shots hit the post -- to emerge a winner after all the attention was focused on the Canucks' crease early.

"In the end it was our good goaltending and some timely goals," Trotz said.

Fisher provided the timeliest off a late rush, beating his check to the net to lift a one-touch backhander off Martin Erat's nice feed over the outstretched pad of Luongo.

"They were taking it to us late and we just got one chance and buried it," said Fisher.  "We're not used to those types of games. We're usually a 2-1, 1-0 type of group."

As for the first thing on Trotz's pregame list -- good goaltending -- there wasn't much early as Vancouver welcomed its Vezina finalist back in one crease, then chased the Predators' finalist from the other. After combining for 14 goals in four regular-season games last season, the teams put 10 on the board in the first two periods alone.

"It was an entertaining game without a doubt, not the way we had drawn it up," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I liked everything about our game except for our penalty-killing, and obviously both our goaltenders would probably like to have a couple of those back. … Usually, when you score five, that should be good enough."

That Luongo was in goal at all was a surprise after Schneider made his seventh straight start. But after stopping 164 of 168 shots during a five-game win streak that kept a healthy Luongo on the bench, Schneider couldn't stop either of the Preds' first two shots. He was late getting into position on David Legwand's sharp-angle power-play shot at 5:44, and Fisher scored on the next shot off a rush 2 1/2 minutes later with a backhand from a similar spot.

Cody Hodgson closed the gap on a nice give-and-go less than two minutes later, but Schneider – who didn't see a third shot until the final minute of the first period – was beaten on the fifth, a wicked power-play one-timer by Shea Weber with 10 seconds left.

"That was ugly … an ugly road win," Weber said. "We had to start playing better for our goaltender. We were way too loose defensively. I think even after he came in we were still too loose defensively but he made some big saves and we had some timely goals."

Weber's goal brought on Luongo to start the second, and marked his first ice time since suffering an upper-body injury during a win over the Islanders on Nov. 13, a stretch that included five games as a healthy backup.

"I didn't expect it," Luongo said of his appearance. "Cory's been playing really well."

It didn't take the Canucks long to rally behind their embattled goalie, and half a period later, Vancouver's lightning-quick four-goal swing resulted in Rinne's removal.

Daniel Sedin started the surge on the power play at 3:10 and Aaron Volpatti, who wasn't supposed to play until a paperwork error prevented Mason Raymond from making his return from a broken back, tied it 48 seconds later with his first of the season.

Alexandre Burrows gave the Canucks their first lead after a beautiful spinning backhand pass into the crease at 8:16, and Jannik Hansen blasted a slap shot from the top of the right circle under Rinne two minutes later, ending his night after five goals on 18 shots.

Vigneault didn't offer further explanation for Raymond's surprise absence, but admitted it wasn't easy after the emotional roller-coaster of preparing to play his first game since am awkward hit during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final left him in a back brace for months.

"Obviously he was real disappointed," said Vigneault, who broke the news to Raymond. "He was ready to play and he wanted to come in and help his team mates."

So did Luongo, even if he didn't expect to get the chance. Shortly after his team roared back, the Predators took Vancouver's lead to rally behind Lindback, their replacement goalie.

Jordin Tootoo started the rally with 3:51 left, and Colin Wilson tied it on a power play soon after, deking Luongo to the ice before lifting a backhand over his pad.

"I didn't get much action and they scored a couple nice goals," he said. "We deserved a better fate. It was unfortunate they got that late goal on a pretty good play. … It was the first action in a while, and I'm just going to look at going on from there."
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