I was excited to be writing a Nashville recap. So many questions: would Deacon and Rayna finally get married? Would Avery cut Juliette a break, or go through with the divorce? Then I woke up to the fact I was recapping the Nashville Predators - Vancouver Canucks hockey game. Still a lot of questions. Just different ones.
The game began, like so many Nashville - Vancouver games, with lots of action between the blue lines, with little danger at either end.
Roughly five minutes in, Yannick Weber distinguished himself with his physical play in the Nashville end.
Starting six minutes in, the Canucks started to get some zone time, reaching a 4-2 shot advantage, and finally getting the monkey off their back. Bo Horvat scored the Canucks first goal in many a game on a rebound off a Sven Baertschi shot.
Horvat's 12th of the year. His parents and grandparents are here for game. #Canucks— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) March 25, 2016
Eric Nystrom took a poor retaliation penalty at 8:07, swiping back at Nikita Tryamkin, who caught Nystrom with a clean, hard check. The Canucks did not convert on the power play, however. Tryamkin continues to look impressive, playing ever bigger minutes, in ever more difficult situations. I guess that's why the rabble are breaking out the contract snafu now -- must distract the fans from being happy with Jim Benning for making a seemingly good pick in the third round.
Shea Weber took a hooking penalty for dumping Jannik Hansen in front of the Nashville net. On the ensuing power play, Vancouver wasted little time capitalizing. Daniel Sedin scored his 27th, from Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. Henrik's assist put him just past Maurice Richard on the all-time scoring list (I know, I know, comparing different eras, etc.)
That paid out $775 on our PP contest.. it starts at $50 and only goes up 25 with each PP sqaundered. You do the math, it's been a while— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 25, 2016
So, after the Canucks best period in awhile, they bumped the goal scoring slump, the power play slump, and took a lead into the intermission. Will this be the high point of the rest of the season?
In years to come, scholars of hockey and Buddhism will cite the second period of tonight's game as the perfect embodiment of nothing -- the perfect absence of excitement, action, highlights, and notable action. If you missed it, congratulations. If you watched it, I'm sorry. Dan Hamhuis took the only penalty of the period, but the Predators didn't convert. Each team had six shots on goal. Frankly, after years of watching the Preds do to the Canucks what the Canucks did to the Preds in that period, I felt the Canucks owed them that performance. I started to wonder if the combination of the Canucks finding some structure in their game and the Predators underestimating the opposition would help the Canucks escape Nashville with a win.
Alas, these are the same Canucks that could not hold a third period lead all year. Against the high-flying Predators at home, a win would be too tall an order.
Nashville started to take over about seven minutes into the third. James Neal started to get free to make moves to the net with just under 8 minutes gone on the period. Nashville penned the Canucks in their own zone on the next shift, forcing them to ice the puck. Still, the Canucks' defensive structure held.
Gradually, though, the Predators looked more and more dangerous, forcing Ryan Miller to make ever better saves. And at 11:56, James Neal finally got a goal, on a centering pass from Colin Wilson, for his impressive work in the 3rd.
Shortly after, at 13:01 Filip Forsberg tied it up. After Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi put on pressure in the Preds zone, Nashville cleared it into the Canucks zone. Ryan Miller cleared it out, but Linden Vey failed to drive the puck deep into the Nashville zone, because he was taken down by Mike Ribero while shoting. On the ensuing Nashville rush, Matias Ekholm drove down the left wing and shot the puck off Miller. None of the Canucks players grabbed the puck after Miller's stop. Instead, Forsberg got the puck and wrapped around behind the net and put it into the wide open right side. Two goals in just more than a minute, and the Canucks streak of third period collapses continued.
Nashville applied pressure throughout the rest of their third -- urged on by a loud, boisterous home crowd -- but the Canucks did not break.
Tryamkin out there in the final minute to get it to OT.. Which gets the Canucks a point.. Currently 2 ahead of the @MapleLeafs— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 25, 2016
The Predators are 1-12 in OT this season, which I find stunning. The Canucks are 4-9, but that record has been bolstered by recent results. Tonight, neither team broke with their OT precedent. Bo Horvat and Sven Baertshi combined for a nice passing play, but Baertschi's deflection missed the net.
Brendan Gaunce got an overtime shift, but he lost the puck in the Nashville zone, and he took a penalty for holding Shea Weber as he tried to rush it out of the Predators' zone. Dan Hamhuis and Nikita Tryamkin were out killing the entire penalty, as the Canucks could not clear it enough to let the D pair change. They sure appreciated Miller's effort to end OT tied.
Jared McCann scored for the Canucks, while Baertschi, Vey and Horvat were stopped. Both Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith scored for Nashville in OT while Forsberg and Neal were stopped.
Nashville wins in the shootout.
Canucks started well as usual, but couldn't sustain it through 60 minutes. Tonight seeemd to be less an effort problem, than a simply "they don't have the horses" problem. And now off to St. Louis to play the Blues.
#Canucks have 11 regulation wins in past 50 games (18 wins total)— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) March 25, 2016
Rinne: "The fans really helped us out in this one. Once we tied it, they were so loud, I felt like the Canucks had no answer for us." #Preds— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) March 25, 2016
WD on Tryamkin "I didn't expect him to be this good"— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) March 25, 2016
Willie D: "Tryamkin was good tonight. He played a lot of big minutes."— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) March 25, 2016
Willie D: "Tryamkin's been pretty impressive lately. He's still got a long way to go. For a start where he's at, he's been good."— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) March 25, 2016