Both the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators limped in to Thursday night's contest looking for a cure for the early season "hangover." One team found a cure and the other took the brunt of it.
Vancouver easily won the postseason rematch 5-1 after taking an early 4-1 lead in the opening period. All the usual suspects and a rookie scored for Vancouver as goals came from Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Dale Weise, Chris Higgins, and Ryan Kesler. Matt Halischuk had the lone goal for the Preds.
Pekka Rinne left after the first period after he was victimized by a porous Predator defense. Anders Lindback relieved and should have received "star of the game" honors, stopping 23 of 24 shots during the Canucks' assault in the final two periods.
Roberto Luongo was rarely challenged in taking the win as he stopped all but one of 26 Predator shots.
After the game, the Predators tucked their tales and fled to the airport where they will fly to Calgary and face the Flames at 3 p.m. on Saturday before returning to Nashville.
Comments from the Couch...
Vancouver's first goal came at just 2:11 into the game when the Canucks were attacking from behind the goal when Daniel Sedin banked a shot off of Rinne's left skate to get it in the net.
The Predators first goal at 4:01 was also a bit offbeat when Halischuk picked up a big rebound off the boards.
The Canucks scored again at 5:56, just ten seconds in to a Patric Hornqvist generated power play. Henrik Sedin fired a shot from near the blueline and Kevin Klein accidentaly redirected it past Rinne as he was trying to move Ryan Kesler from in front of the net.
Colin Wilson was given a double minor at 6:24 into the game when he high-sticked Jannik Hansen to really put the Preds in a hole. The Preds got some relief when Daniel Sedin hooked Ryan Suter with 54 seconds left in the penalty.
After surviving the double minor, the Canucks scored again on a deflection by Weise on an Alex Edler shot from the blueline. The Canucks had doubled up the Preds on shots 12-6 when they went up 3-1.
The Predators avoided the Canucks' fourth goal when it was knocked into the net by Marco Sturm's skate at 13:05. Just 23 seconds later, they got number four anyway when the Preds turned the puck over in the Canucks' zone and Chris Higgins fired a shot at Rinne on an odd-man rush from the right circle that was blocked by Jon Blum but it went back to Higgins who put it in the net by the previously committed Rinne.
An absolutely miserable opening period ended with Wilson and Maxim Lapierre scraping as time ran off the clock. Both were given a fighting major to give Wilson nine PIMs for the period.
The Preds had 10 shots in the first period, almost equaling their game total of 12 against Edmonton on Monday. Vancouver had 16.
Lindback made his first appearance of the year to start the second period after Rinne gave up four goals on 16 Canuck shots. Lindback stopped three point blank shots in his first five minutes of coming into the game.
The Preds turned in a series of three penalties (including 1:32 of five on three play) during the second period that gave Lindback a good workout.
Jordin Tootoo turned in a good fight card on an over-matched Aaron Volpatti at 18:58 in the second period.
Keith Ballard was playing with fire at the end of the second period, roughing up Brian McGratton a couple of times. I'm surprised he didn't have to pay with blood on the ice.
Craig Smith ended the second period with a hooking penalty with seven seconds left to give the Canucks a man-advantage to start another period.
Things may have hit rock bottom when Ryan Suter and Shea Weber took penalties at the same time at 5:12 in the third. I'm betting that Weber's double-minor boarding on Hansen may get him a phone call from Brendan Shanahan.
With Suter and Weber in the box, Pred-Killer Ryan Kesler victimized Lindback who was playing a perfect game up until that point in the contest.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass