It took some time to get going, but two goals in the span of 73 seconds lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at Rogers Arena.
Nicklas Jensen scored his third goal in fourth games while Alex Edler added another just over a minute later to give the Canucks the win. Vancouver now trails Phoenix by three points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining. It’s a long shot, but not totally hopeless. Crazier things have happened.
Eddie Lack stopped 30 shots on the night, earning his fourth shutout of the season.
The Canucks got off to a slow start, going over eight minutes without a shot. Puck control proved to be a problem as anytime the Canucks got it into Nashville’s zone, they’d find a way to turn it over. Zack Kassian had a great chance after coming up with a steal, but lost control on the rush. Shawn Matthias helped create a 3-on-2 rush moments later, but Chris Higgins was unable to control a cross-ice pass on another lost chance for the Canucks.
The Defeated Enemy Camp
The Defeated Enemy Camp
Midway through the first period, the Predators had a point blank chance on net, but Eddie Lack was able to adjust to come up with the game’s first big save.
The Canucks finally had a quality shift around 12 minutes into the first period that looked more like a team on a power play as Vancouver had a flurry of chances on net with three shots from Kassian and Kevin Bieksa. Vancouver hadn’t put much pressure on since the game’s opening shift, so a little surge of life there was nice to see.
Lack stopped 14 shots in the first period alone, half of those coming in a span of two minutes. One of Nashville’s best chances came during that stretch when Seth Jones was left all alone at the top of the slot to wind up for a blistering slap shot. The blade of Jones’ stick snapped and was sent flying into the stands as the Canucks dodged a bullet. On the play, Jones was left wide open while the rest of the Canucks were all bunched up on the opposite side of the ice.
The Predators had the first power play of the night just over four minutes into the second period when Alex Edler was sent off for slashing. In the past, this would be no cause for concern. But those were the glory days when the Canucks led the league in killing penalties. Since mid January, Vancouver has slipped down to 12th in the league.
After killing the penalty, the Canucks had a pair of good chances on net from a quick shot on net from Edler as he bolted out of the box. Nashville’s Carter Hutton then robbed Alex Burrows by stretching his right pad out for a kick save at the side of the net to keep the game scoreless. After an abysmal start to the year, Burrows has been hot as of late with five goals in four games.
Late in the second period as the Canucks went shorthanded once again, the Canucks nearly game up with a shorty as a turnover gave Vancouver an odd-man rush, but Alex Edler’s cross ice pass was blocked to kill the scoring chance.
The Canucks outshot the Predators 11-9 in the second period and had a number of quality scoring chances on net, but both goaltenders were on their A-game on Wednesday night as the game remained scoreless heading into the third period.
After not registering a shot for six minutes to open the period, Nicklas Jensen opened the scoring with a wrist shot past Hutton to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. The goal was Jensen’s third in the last four goals. Hotter than Hansel, I tell you.
During the scoring play, Shea Webber slashed at the glove of Alex Burrows who shook out his hand in pain. Burrows would have to head off to the dressing room, but would return shortly thereafter.
Four seconds into Vancouver’s first power play of the game, Alex Edler sent a blistering one-timer on net to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead. The goal was scored so quickly, the building’s PA guy was still announcing Nashville’s penalty.
The Predators had their third power play opportunity just over midway through the third period when Shawn Matthias was sent off for hooking. Nashville couldn’t get a shot off during the power play as Vancouver’s penalty kill showed signs of returning to their elite form from earlier in the year. Nashville had one more power play late in the third period but would come up short again, going 0-for-4 on power plays during the game. The Predators would average just one shot per power play.
Vancouver returns to the ice on Sunday evening when the Buffalo Sabres come to town. Seven of the Canucks’ final 10 games are at home. Personally, I’m clinging to every last sliver of hope that the Canucks will rip off a run like they did two years ago when they won eight out of their final nine games to end the regular season. It’s three points, people. A run like could set Vancouver up with a first round matchup with the St. Louis Blues. Considering Vancouver’s success against the Blues this year (3-0), I would take that matchup any day of the week.
One game at a time, two points at a time, and the season might not be so hopeless after all. Keep your chin up, folks. It ain’t over till it’s over.