Saturday, May 7, 2011

Preds 4, Canucks 3: Not Tonight

With their backs up against the wall and nothing to lose, Nashville responded well in their first elimination game, beating Vancouver by a 4-3 score. David Legwand and Joel Ward led the way offensively with a pair off goals each, and elimination was held off until at least Monday night.

1st Period
  • Playing in front of their home fans with a chance to advance to the conference finals, Vancouver game out flying, and look poised to take the lead after a Sergei Kostitsyn holding-the-stick penalty. Instead, Nashville turned the tables, and at 3:42, after knocking the puck off of Daniel Sedin's stick, Joel Ward fed a breaking David Legwand, who beat Roberto Luongo stick-side on a breakaway. The SHG was Legwand's second in as many games.
  • Vancouver wasted no time in responding, and at 5:59, a hustling Jannik Hansen stole the puck off of Jon Blum's stick and centered to Raffi Torres, who had a wide open net to shoot into with Pekka Rinne out of position.
  • The Pred Killer strikes again. With Shea Weber pinching in, J.P. Dumont whiffed on a pass at the Vancouver blue-line, resulting in a 2-on-1. Mason Raymond fed a pass over to Ryan Kesler, and even though Weber got back in time, Kesler still managed to get his stick on the pass and knock it pass Rinne. A good effort by Weber, but an even better one by Kesler.
2nd Period
  • 51 seconds into the period, David Legwand tied the game with one of the flukiest goals you'll ever see. After receiving a pass from Joel Ward while behind the net, Legwand tried to return a pass back to his linemate. Instead, his stick connected with Christian Ehrhoff's, went over the net, off the hand of Alex Edler, and past Luongo. It was a goal where you had to see it to believe it.
3rd Period
  •  Nashville regained the lead at 1:14, getting yet another goal early in the period. After the forechecking of Ward kept Kevin Bieksa's clearing attempt from getting out of the zone, Mike Fisher gained possession of the puck and sent a cross-ice pass to a wide-open Ward, who sent a rocket past Luongo.
  • When you're hot, you're hot. In Ward's case, he's scorching hot. At 5:45, a scrum off to Luongo's right had the puck deflect off the stick of Jordin Tootoo and right to Ward, who sniped a wrister over Luongo's glove shoulder. If Kesler is the Pred Killer, I deem Joel Ward the Canuck Killer... or Whale Killer. Whatever works.
  • Vancouver made it interesting at 16:14, via yet another Kesler goal. With Bieksa driving to the net, Kesler replaced him at the point, and after receiving a pass from Edler, fired a shot through traffic that beat Rinne.
Other Thoughts
  • Nashville has struggled in the faceoff dot all series long, and with Jerred Smithson out of the lineup tonight, those struggles continued, as Vancouver won 62% of the draws.
  • Mike Fisher came up big again, although it won't show up on the scoresheet. Yes, he got his first point in the series tonight, but Fisher won two defensive-zone faceoffs in the final minute of play.
  • Pekka Rinne has carried this team on his back at times, and tonight, the players in front of him tried to make his life a little easier, blocking an impressive 30 shots.
  • As the season progressed, I had my doubts that Joel Ward would be in a Preds sweater next season. Now, I'm not sure that will be the case. Ward has been HUGE in every aspect of every game in this series. Without him and Rinne, the Preds would be on the links on Monday.
  • Nashville needs to find a way to slow down Ryan Kesler. He has nine points in the five games played (5G, 4A), and has compensated for the lack of offensive from the Sedin twins. 
  • For the first time in the series, the Preds managed to get more than two goals past Luongo. Will Luongo's confidence be shaky in Game 6? If so, Nashville will have a golden opportunity to push this series to seven games.
For now, the Preds live to play another day. This season has been a memorable one, and I'm sure there's not a player on that team who wants to see it end on Monday night. Nashville has shown it's resilience time and time again this season, and hopefully they show it again.

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