The Nashville Predators were unable to overcome a tough first period and lost by a 2-0 margin to the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night at GM Place. Vancouver outshot Nashville 17-4 during the opening 20 minutes and got the game's only two goals before the first intermission. Goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped all 20 shots he faced to record the Canucks' fourth straight win.
With the loss the Predators' record slides to 47-21-6 and 21-15-2 on the road. Nashville maintains its one-point lead in the Western Conference standings but lost the league lead Wednesday to Buffalo, who leapfrogged the Predators with a 5-2 win over Washington. The Predators stand at 100 points, Buffalo now has 101 and Nashville's next closest competitor in the West, Detroit, remains at 99 points.
Though the Predators killed off all seven power-plays they allowed in Wednesday's game, penalty issues sapped Nashville's momentum at various points throughout the contest. When the Preds got their chances on the power play--once in the second period and three times in the third--Vancouver's aggressive, No. 1-ranked penalty kill disrupted passes and prevented any sustained pressure from the visiting team.
The Predators had just one shot on goal when Vancouver's Jan Bulis made it 1-0 at 10:58 of the first by scoring on the Canucks' 11th shot of the game. Bulis took a counter-attack pass from the neutral zone and fired a shot from the left circle that caromed in off the inside of goaltender Tomas Vokoun's left leg pad as Vokoun was dropping into a butterfly stance.
David Legwand had Nashville's best chance of the first period around 15 seconds later, releasing a tough shot from the slot on a rebound of Darcy Hordichuk's sharp-angle blast. Luongo stopped the shot and smothered the puck for a whistle.
Vancouver made it 2-0 with 2:03 left in the first, winning a face-off in Nashville's end and setting up Tommi Santala for a one-timer from the slot that beat Vokoun high.
The Predators emerged from the first intermission with renewed passion but couldn't maintain the attack throughout the second period. The third started in similar upbeat fashion for Nashville, with forward Ramzi Abid having a point-blank rebound chance deflected high into the protective mesh at 1:50. But once again, untimely penalties limited the Predators' ability to develop a rhythm and Luongo was there when needed to keep Nashville at bay.
The Predators will be able to put the defeat behind them quickly as they move on to Calgary for an 8:00 p.m. CT game against the Flames Thursday night at Pengrowth Saddledome.
NOTES: The Predators dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards Wednesday and defenseman Marek Zidlicky saw time at both forward and defense... David Legwand led all Predators with four shots on goal... Nashville was shut out for the first time since Feb. 16, a 1-0 loss at St. Louis. All five shutouts for Nashville this season have come on the road... Martin Erat, Scott Nichol, Jordin Tootoo and Steve Sullivan were scratched for the Predators. Tootoo served the first game of a five-game suspension.