Thursday, May 5, 2011

Canucks 4, Preds 2: On The Ropes

In Round 1, it was Teemu Selanne who obtained the title of Pred Killer. In Round 2, that title belongs to Ryan Kesler, who registered the GWG for the second consecutive game as Vancouver held off Nashville by a 4-2 score, taking a decisive 3-1 series lead.

1st Period
  • All season long, Pekka Rinne has scared many fans with his numerous trips outside of his crease. His aggressiveness proved to be his undoing in Game 3, and came back to bite him again at 15:04. Pekka came out of his crease just a little too far, and witb Alex Burrows providing a screen, Christian Ehrhoff blasted a shot from the point past Rinne to give Vancouver the lead.
  • With Sami Salo in the box for delay of game, Nashville was able to knot the score at 19:18, as a rebound of a Cody Franson shot found its way to an unmarked Joel Ward, who slid the puck under Roberto Luongo's pads.
2nd Period
  • Vancouver regained the lead at 9:43, as Ryan Kesler found Alex Edler open at the point, and his ensuing shot through traffic beat Rinne.
  • Nashville had a golden opportunity to draw even again just minutes later, but was able to only get one shot from two power plays, at one time having a two-man advantage for 47 seconds. Unacceptable.
3rd Period
  • Cody Franson was one of the few bright spots tonight. He was putting pucks on net whenever possible, played solid defense, and contributed on the scoresheet. He tied the game again at 3:27 on a somewhat strange goal, as his shot beat Luongo but was enveloped in the net, momentarily confusing players, refs, and fans alike until the puck was found in the net.
  • Even the best screw up. Ryan Suter picked the worst time to screw up, however, taking a stupid penalty as he inexplicably lost his cool and threw Kesler down on the ice in front of the Nashville net. Kesler made sure to make him pay, as he scored on the ensuing power play at 7:28, gaining a head of steam in the neutral zone, splitting Shea Weber and Shane O'Brien with an incredible finess move, and beating Rinne with a beautiful low shot.
  • Nashville had very few opportunities to get an equalizer, as Vancouver did an incredible job on defense and with fantastic puck possession. Henrik Sedin's empty-netter at 19:39 iced the game.
Other Thoughts
  • Love him or hate him, Kesler had another big game for Vancouver. He had a hand in 3 of their 4 goals, drew penalties, and continued to be a force that Nashville is yet to figure out.
  • Patric Hornqvist had 5 shots, followed by Ward with 4, and Franson with 3. Weber, Legwand, and Erat laid goose eggs, while Shane Freakin' O'Brien managed to register a shot. You can't score goals without shooting the puck, and if the Preds have any intentions of surviving past Saturday night, that needs to change.
  • Remember when Barry Trotz said at the Skate of the Union that he was having a hand on the power play? Granted, we did score tonight, but that was due to a missed assignment from Vancouver's defense. Having a power play means shooting the puck, and the Preds were once again getting too cute and looking for that perfect shot.
  • With Jerred Smithson doubtful for Game 5, would Trotz consider inserting Cal O'Reilly into the lineup? At this point, the Preds have nothing to lose. Perhaps Cal could pull a Dave Bolland and be a key component in getting them back in the series.

So here we are. Down 3-1, and back on the road. This team has what it takes to take Game 5, but do they have the will? It's entirely possible that this series can still go to 7.

Just ask Chicago...

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