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Post-Game Musings: vs. Vancouver

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
Coming into Tuesday night’s game at Bridgestone Arena, the Vancouver Canucks had gone 13 straight games without a regulation loss. The Nashville Predators snapped that streak with a confident 3-1 victory, winning the special teams battle against the league’s top power play and getting a huge game from Mike Fisher.

Early turnovers by the Predators at their own blueline made for a sluggish start for the home team, but by the time the clock hit the 5:00 mark Nashville started taking better care of the puck. With more precise exits from the defensive zone, the Predators were able to use their speed and generate 11 shots and several close calls in the opening 20 minutes. The Canucks had their share of chances too, and the fairly even period fittingly ended tied 0-0.

Fisher, back after missing Sunday’s game in Dallas with the flu, scored on the power play at 5:42 of the second period then set up Sergei Kostitsyn for a short-handed tally at 13:16 to give the Predators a 2-0 lead. Vancouver’s Dale Weise cut the lead in half just over three minutes later.

With Fisher pacing the offense, Nashville’s defensemen stepped up in the third. Hal Gill played a key role in shutting down Vancouver’s top line; Shea Weber nearly scored on a breakaway chance that was knocked just wide by Roberto Luongo’s glove hand; and Roman Josi and Ryan Suter hit goalposts minutes apart in the latter half of the third.

David Legwand finally broke through to beat Luongo on a one-timer with 2:51 left in regulation to give the Nashville some breathing room and the final 3-1 margin.

The Predators, 35-19-6, now move on to the second game of a four-game homestand, hosting the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena 7 p.m. CT on Thursday.

Bullet Points
Flu Shots: Predators forward Mike Fisher, who admitted after the game to not feeling great Tuesday morning after a bout with the flu, returned to the line-up Tuesday night looking no worse for wear. He jumped out of the gate with three first period shots, all quality scoring chances. He then scored on his fourth shot, shoveling a Shea Weber pass behind a diving Roberto Luongo early in the second. His two assists later in the game gave him his third three-point game of the season.

Power Play-Off: The league’s best two power plays went head-to-head Tuesday. The Canucks, ranked first overall at 22.3 percent, and the Predators, ranked second at 21.5 percent each had their chances, but the home team ultimately won the special teams battle decidedly. Nashville finished the game 1-for-3 with the man advantage and scored once while short-handed. And the addition of renowned penalty killer Hal Gill to the Nashville squad paid immediate dividends as the Preds shut down both chances the Canucks’ power play had. “The special teams won us the game,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “A power play goal for us and then the short-handed goal—to me that was the game in a lot of ways. We were able to hold off their power play, which is very dangerous.”

Weber vs. Burrows: In a cathartic moment for Predators fans, defenseman Shea Weber (6-foot -4) manhandled Alexandre Burrows (6-foot-1) to the ice with less than a minute remaining in the second period. The sequence started with Burrows giving Weber extra shoves into the boards at the Predators bench. Weber responded with a twist and shove that sent Burrows to the ice, then the two had a set-to in open ice away from the play. After some shoves back and forth, Burrows and Weber flung off their gloves to engage each other before Weber quickly drove Burrows to the ice to the roar of the Bridgestone Arena crowd.

Predators forward Mike Fisher: “I don’t know what they put in the IV but I’ll take another one.”

Predators defenseman Ryan Suter: “Our power-play’s been so good for us all year. In the past we never got momentum off it. This year we’re getting momentum off it and things are going well. We’re scoring. It’s nice to go out and get that momentum.”

Predators defenseman Hal Gill: “It’s playoff style hockey I guess. It’s gonna be like that from here on in. Those battles are going to be bigger and more important. That’s where you want to be, in position to be in those battles.”

1. F, Mike Fisher (NSH): 1 goal, 2 assists, +2 and 6 shots
2. F, Sergei Kostitsyn (NSH): Game-winning goal
3. G, Pekka Rinne (NSH): Stopped 32 of 33 shots to record his league-leading 33rd win

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