Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vancouver Stymies Predators 4-1

The Sedin brothers, Henrik and Daniel, each had a goal and two assists to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators in the last game before Christmas for both teams.

The win by the Canucks was well earned as they played with a greater since of urgency after losing to St. Louis on Sunday and needing the win to try to move back into the eighth position in the Western Conference.

The Predators helped the Nucks cause by playing very loose with the puck in the neutral zone contributing to the large shot disparity between the two teams. The Predators also weren't winning many of the one on one battles for the puck.

The game started with the Predators making the first error when Ryan Suter was called for holding the stick at 3:05. The Canucks got four shots on the man advantage with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

Jerred Smithson left the game and did not return at 3:50 during the penalty kill after after he took a puck to the left leg or arm during a penalty kill. It was officially reported as a "lower body injury".

Rick Rypien returned the favor to the Preds at 10:01 as he was called for high sticking Patric Hornqvist. The Preds only one shot on their power play.

At 15:30 Dave Scatchard gave the Canucks another shot at a man advantage when he was whistled for cross checking Christian Ehrhoff. The Nucks had three shots, two of which were good scoring chances, but the Predator penalty kill held firm.

For the period Vancouver dominated the flow of the game and out shot the Preds 14-6. On the Corsi side, things were even worse better with a 26-9 margin. Dan Ellis was easily the star of the period stopping all 14 shots, half of which were on the power play.

During the first intermission, Barry Trotz was pleased to get out of the first period with a 0-0 score and claimed that the Preds had a big opportunity to come back having survived the first period still tied.

The Predators went on the power play early in the second period at 3:36 when Jannik Hansen managed to trip Ryan Jones near the Canuck blue line.

As the power play ended at 5:21, Shea Weber and Ryan Kesler squared off at center ice for a boxing match and once again, an opponent was taught the lesson that it is not a good idea to fight Shea Weber. Weber clearly got the best of Kesler.

Weber-Kesler Fight with Green Men near the box

The fight seemed to rally the Canucks and it resulted in a goal by Steve Bernier at 6:39 when he picked up a blocked shot in front of the Predator net and put it through Dan Ellis' five hole to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.

At 8:16 the Predators temporarily went down a second player when defenseman Francis Bouillon received a facial injury from an unknown source and left the game.

Dave Scatchard was called for goaltender interference at 14:35 when he swung too wide while forechecking and clipped Roberto Luongo who made a good show of it by making a dramatic dive to make sure the officials could see the infraction.

With 13 seconds left on the man advantage, at 16:23, Daniel Sedin took a pass from his brother Henrik to put it past Dan Ellis from the slot for a power play goal. You could see the whole break down evolving as the Canucks had five shots on the man advantage and had the Predators scrambling to maintain positioning.

The period ended with the Canucks maintaining their two goal lead and out shooting the Preds 14-7 bringing the two period total to 28-13. 12 of the Canucks 28 shots were on the power play. The Corsi numbers were really ugly at 50-23.

Brent Peterson described the situation during the intermission as the Predators standing around watching Vancouver play. He was still positive that he Preds could make a turn-around.

The Predators started the third period in good position to be in line for a miracle if they planned to turn around the 2-0 deficit. Francis Bouillon returned to the bench at the start of the period with what appeared to be a cut to the lip and a blow to the eye.

Things worsened for the Predators at 6:53 when they, once again, turned the puck over at their own blue line resulting in the third goal that made it "game, set, match" as Barry Trotz said in a recent game. Sami Salo unloaded a cannon, through traffic, for the goal that Ellis never had a chance to stop due to traffic in front of the net.

At 9:31 the game got completely out of hand when the Sedin brothers hooked up a second time, with Henrik being on the goal scoring end for the goal that gave Vancouver the 4-0 lead. If there was a provision for a "mercy" rule, this would have been time to pack up the equipment and go home.

Patric Hornqvist finished Roberto Luongo's quest for a shut out at 14:36 when he skated free in front of the Canuck goal and made a nifty shot high over Luongo's right shoulder that he never had a chance to stop.

The game ended with the 4-1 score which was not indicative of the relative play of the two squads. The Canucks out shot the Preds 36-21 but the larger disparity was in the amount of hustle and jump shown by Vancouver.

Story Lines From the Game

Desperate Hockey by Vancouver...

After taking a beating in the local press and by the coaching staff the last couple of days, Vancouver did what they had to do to show up ready to play against the Predators. The Canucks played a near perfect game as they out skated the Preds from the opening puck drop in what was repeatedly discriminated as "desperate hockey".

The Canucks won most of the battles on the boards and picked up virtually every loose puck on the ice during the game. Dan Ellis played a very good game not to give up more goals than he did. The four goals that Ellis allowed were the result of teammate's break downs and Vancouver screens.

On Tuesday night, the Canucks were clearly the better team and more prepared to play.

Predators Appeared to Need a Few Days Off..

From the beginning of the game, this did not appear that it was going to be a good night for the Predators. They were not playing with the same jump and enthusiasm that they have shown in the first two games on this road trip. They have been in a rhythm of playing every other night and with the early game last Saturday and three nights off since the game, they did not appear to be as prepared to play as we have seen lately.

The same issues of sloppy passing and plenty of turnovers contributed heavily to the the numerous scoring opportunities that he Canucks had. The high point of the evening was when the Predators survived the Canuck onslaught in the first and were still technically in the game at the end of the first period.

The Predators had to be happy with a 2-1 record on the brief road trip but I'm sure all involved would have liked to have seen a better showing to finish the trip after winning the first two games.

Psych Ward Pick-up Needed at GM Place...

Weirdness doesn't generally deserve a story line mention, but the two guys dressed in green full body spandex-looking material are an exception. Every time a Pred player was sent to the penalty box, these two odd-balls would start pawing and climbing the side of the penalty box like they wanted to be Spiderman or some other low-rent super-hero. These guys could definitely sped some time on a couch. See what I mean in the Shea Weber fight video when Shea heads to the box.

Up Next...

Three Days off before a home and away with the Blackhawks on Saturday appear to be needed. The best thing for the Predators to do is to put this game behind them and come back to Nashville on Saturday ready to start another run.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass

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