Coming off marginal performances on the recent homestand, it was somewhat unexpected that the Nashville Predators would spring to life and defeat the high flying Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in what was only their seventh victory all-time at GM Place.
The game winning goal by Shea Weber came on a five on three power play with 4:03 remaining. Ryan Jones and Joel Ward also provided goals for the Predators. The Preds got two power play goals and a short-handed goal in route to the upset victory.
Both Vancouver goals were supplied by the hot-handed Alexander Burrows.
Dan Ellis was outstanding in goal, stopping 30 of 32 Canuck shots. Roberto Luongo also played well, stopping 22 shots in the loss.
The game got off to an ominous start for the Predators when David Legwand was called for a phantom hooking call thirty-six seconds into the game. To the surprise of the capacity Vancouver crowd, at 2:02, Joel Ward picked up a loose puck at the Canuck blue line and skated the length of the ice and buried a shot on Roberto Luongo to give the Preds an early 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal.
Play was swift with few stoppages through the middle part of the opening period with the Predators playing with more intensity and and awareness than has been seen in recent games.
Off a face off late in the period, Daniel Sedin fed a nifty pass from behind the red line in the right corner into the blue ice where Alexander Burrows was waiting to flip the pass into the net from Dan Ellis's off side to tie the game 1-1.
Henrik Sedin was called for hooking with 75 seconds left in the period. At 19:32 the Predators got a power play goal from Ryan Jones who was camped in the blue paint and received a feed from David Legwand to put the Preds up 2-1 to end the period.
Vancouver out shot the Preds 13-8 for the period and had a 23-16 Corsi margin.
As the second period started at 1:06, Vancouver was the beneficiary of another questionable call as Ryan Kessler bumped Goalie Dan Ellis after a save and Ellis was called for roughing on the face wash payback. With heavy traffic in front of the Predator net, Alexander Edler fired a shot from the point that was tipped by Alexander Burrows for his second goal of the evening at 1:30 to tie the game 2-2.
The Predators returned to the man advantage at 8:30 when Alexandre Bolduc was called for tripping. The Preds did nothing with the opportunity as they got no shots and surrendered a short handed shot to the Nucks.
At 16:05 after a series of crisp passes around the Vancouver net, Dan Hamhuis fired a shot from the point that caught the post. At 18:10 after an odd play involving Henric Sedin laying on top of Dan Ellis, goal tender interference was finally called to put the Preds on the power play to end the period. Vancouver successfully stalled all attempts by the Predators to put together any scoring chances as the period came to a close.
The period ended with the score tied 2-2. Vancouver again led in shots 11-8 and 18-14 on the Corsi side.
At 3:36 in the third period another questionable call was made when Alexander Burrows was called for diving after he got tangled up with Dan Hamhuis battling for the puck in the corner. Had the Predators been able to convert on the power play, justice would have been served for a couple of other fishy calls that went against the Preds. The Preds did manage a couple of shots but could not find the net.
More weirdness from the officials occurred at 6:15 when Francis Bouillon was called for delay of game when he was unable to stop from cruising into the net and he dislodged the Predator net. The best opportunity during the Nucks man advantage was a short-handed two on one attempt by David Legwand on a breakaway that he was unable to get past Roberto Luongo.
At 9:21 Willie Mitchel was called for interference on a very touchy play that was was not clearly apparent on replay. The Preds has a couple of quality chances on the man advantage, but again, did not convert.
Ryan Jones was called for hooking with 4:49 remaining in one of the more legitimate penalties of the evening. Things returned to the status quo for poor officiating when Alexander Burrows was called for interference on the ensuing face off when he had incidental contact with Joel Ward.
At 16:57 the boos rained down from the Vancouver crowd as Shea Weber took a feed from Ryan Suter and blew it high into the net past Luongo to put the Preds ahead 3-2 on the four on three power play.
After the resulting four on four expired there was frenetic action over the full length of the ice as Vancouver was playing desperate hockey. The Preds out shot the Canucks 9-8 in the third period. The game ended with Alexander Burrows getting a game misconduct with four seconds remaining.
Storylines form the Game
Playing to Win...
Barry Trotz reiterated his post game comments from Saturday during the first intermission that the Predators needed to focus on "playing to win" as opposed to playing not to lose. The game was the most complete effort, start to finish, on both ends of the ice, that Pred fans have seen in quite a while so the message must have been clear.
Craziness from the Guys in the Striped Shirts...
As you can tell from reading the above synopsis, the officiating was not palatable to the home crowd or any innocent bystanders. The Canucks were whistled for nine penalties including the game ending misconduct to Alexander Burrows while the Preds were called for four penalties, three of which should not have been called.
Alexander Burrows Follows Up His NHL First Star of the Week...
Alexander Burrows received the NHL First Star of the Week on Monday before the game with the Predators. He wasted no time in working on the beginning of next week's star creating havoc in front of the Predator's net and scoring the first two Vancouver goals. In the end, his tounge got the best of hi and he got sent to the showers two seconds early.
Marty Erat Gets a New Pronunciation...
In one of the most startling developments of the evening, Pete Weber and Terry Crisp were corrected by a photographer from the Czech Republic in their long time pronunciation of Marty E'rat's name. They were told that the correct way to pronounce it was Eh rot (my best guess). They asked Marty about it and he agreed. So two questions arise, why did he wait so long to reveal this information and what is he saying in the United Way commercial?
The Predators flew out after the game and will play in Edmonton on Tuesday night before their big team building day on Wednesday.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass