There were ups and downs. Leads were earned, leads were quickly taken away.
In the end, the Nashville Predators won an absolute thriller against the team that ended their historic postseason run one season ago.
The Preds showed their grit and gutted out a 6-5 victory at Vancouver to win for the second time in three games. Both teams pulled their starting goalies. Nashville twice had a two-goal lead. The Canucks exploded for four goals in the second. The Preds responded with two goals late in the same period. And it all set up a nerve-racking third period.
The Canucks set up shop in their offensive zone but couldn’t convert. Then, as it appeared the teams were nearing overtime, Nashville’s Martin Erat
controlled the puck, made a move, and found Mike Fisher
near the front of the Vancouver net. Fisher converted the chance and Nashville took a 6-5 lead with 1:16 remaining. It held up, and the Preds exited with an exhausting victory.
On to the musings…THREE MUSINGSGoalie oddness:
Vancouver’s Cory Schneider entered as the hottest goaltender in the NHL and was 5-0-0 in his last five games. But he gave up three goals on the first five shots he saw, and was replaced by Roberto Luongo to start the second period. After Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen scored his team’s fifth goal midway through the second, Nashville starting goaltender Pekka Rinne
was replaced by Anders Lindback
. And it was Lindback who proved to be the best goaltender in this game. He stopped all 19 shots he faced, never panicked, and received stronger support from his teammates than Rinne did in the first period.Fisher steps it up: Mike Fisher
entered Thursday on a dry spell. His effort had never waned, but he was pointless in his previous five games, and had only one goal in his previous 14. All that changed in Vancouver. His first goal came at 8:16 of the first, and it gave Nashville a 2-0 lead. Both teams combined to score eight more goals before Fisher netted the game-winner with 1:16 remaining. The lift Fisher gave Nashville went beyond the goals, however. His energy was high and he played at the same level whether the Preds were winning or losing. Expect that to continue as the Preds head back to Nashville.All that offense:
Considering Nashville’s recent offensive troubles, it was a fair question to ask at the end of this one. Where did all of that Nashville offense come from? The answer: from everyone. Fisher had two goals, but David Legwand
, Shea Weber
, Jordin Tootoo
and Colin Wilson
also added scores. The Preds know they must receive balanced scoring, and they showed how successful they can be when it happens. And here’s something else that will put a smile on the face of coach Barry Trotz: Nashville had three power play opportunities and scored on all three.TWO QUOTES
G Anders Lindback
: “Vancouver came out hard and I was getting into the game right away with some shots. I felt pretty good. I try to stay mentally prepared because anything can happen at any time. I try to stay focused all the time and it worked today. We didn’t score in the last game, and it was good to see the guys put the puck in the net.”
F Craig Smith
: “We had some penalties in the second period and that gave them momentum. We wanted to make sure we didn’t turn it over in the third. They have a lot of guys who can move their feet. If you’re not moving your feet, they’re going to put it in the back of the net.”THREE STARS
F Mike Fisher
, Nashville: 2 goals, game-winner, +2
G Anders Lindback
, Nashville: Stopped all 19 shots
F Daniel Sedin, Vancouver: 1 goal, 1 assist