Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Predators end home losing streak with Vancouver in 3-1 win

Coming into Tuesday's match with the Vancouver, the Nashville Predators had not beaten the Canucks at home since March 3, 2011. Including last season's three playoffs losses, the Preds had lost four straight on home ice to Vancouver.

The Predators' 3-1 win with the Canucks gave the Predators a 5-4 point advantage for the season against the defending Western Conference champions.

Preds' coach Barry Trotz explained the importance of the win. "To me, it was a big win here. Through the playoffs last year, we did not not get a home win, now we get that scratched off (the list), so that is a positive thing."

The Predators won the game based on the strength of solid goaltending and their special teams' play.

Pekka Rinne came up big in net, getting his 33rd win of the season, which now leads all NHL goalies. He stopped 32 of 33 Canuck shots.

The Preds got their first two goals via special team play. After a scoreless opening period, the first goal came on the power play with a goal credited to Mike Fisher that may have received a little help finding the net from the Canucks' Sami Salo who was fighting to keep the puck out of the goal.

The second goal was short-handed on a beautiful play where newcomer Hal Gill broke up a pass in the Predators zone and got the puck to Fisher who drove down the ice and made a perfect pass to Sergei Kostitsyn who put it into the roof of the net over a diving Roberto Luongo to give the Preds a 2-0 lead.

Vancouver pulled within one at 2-1 late in the second period on a goal by Dale Weise.

For Predator fans, the memory of the game that will last the longest was a skirmish of sorts in the closing minute of the middle period when Shea Weber made a take-down move on long time Predators' antagonist, Alexander Burrows.

Burrows was doing his best to draw Weber into a penalty and the defenseman put an end to his antics, throwing him to the ice which resulted in both making a trip to the penalty box for a roughing minors.

Weber had little to say about the incident. "It was just the heat of the moment and things happen during the game."

Trotz seemed to have more of an appreciation for the play. "It was Burrows, his nickname is "Burr" because he's a pain to play against. When he gets an opportunity to go after top guys and he hits Webs from the side or behind and gave him a little extra push and a little extra effort there to throw him off and Webs reacted and threw him down pretty easily."

"It was probably a good thing because when Webs gets angry, he can do some damage. Burrows went down quickly and that was probably a good thing for us and them because it ended up being just a two minute penalty."

"With Webs fighting Burrows, I think I'd put my money on Webs With that one."

Trotz was pleased that the penalty was only two minutes but pointed out that "It's a little more of a luxury now, having Hal (Gill) now, veteran guy with a big body when things like that do happen."

The third period was well played by both squads. The final goal by David Legwand with less than three minutes remaining eased everyone's heartburn of closing out a one-goal game with the always dangerous Canucks.

With the win, the Predators ended the evening with 76 points and remained in fifth place in the Western Conference. They are three points ahead of Chicago and three points behind the St. Louis Blues who will be their next opponent on Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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