Canucks 1, Predators 0: Too Little, Too Late

Pekka Rinne was outstanding in goal, but the Preds failed to give him any offensive support tonight.

Pekka Rinne did his best to single-handedly keep them in it, but the Nashville Predators fell short tonight in Game 1, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. Pekka's 29 saves, many of them extraordinary, kept this game close and offered Nashville an opportunity to tie it up later in the 3rd period, but there were no magic tricks available this night, unlike Game 5 against Anaheim in the opening round.

Follow after the jump for video highlights, reaction, and the advanced even-strength stats...

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Let's begin with the video highlights and Predators vs Canucks boxscore:

A few thoughts on tonight's game:

  • In practice, the margin of victory on faceoff wins usually isn't a huge factor during a game, but Vancouver's 12-0 start was simply absurd, and allowed the Canucks to establish territorial dominance in the first period. More than just the work of the center, faceoffs are also a good sign of the intensity and effort level of the supporting wingers.
  • The good news, however, was the play of Pekka Rinne, who gobbled up just about every shot sent his way. This could easily have been a blowout early, but Peks made several spectacular saves throughout the game.
  • So much for a letdown from Vancouver, eh? Give them full marks for the tireless effort their skaters put on tonight, all too often they had the 1st and 2nd passing options covered very tightly, stifling Nashville's attempts to get any offensive pressure.
  • We've been saying all post-season that the Preds need to stay out of the box, which should be a modest goal for one of the league's most disciplined teams. Instead, we saw an early parade to the box. Sully's slash early in the 2nd was especially infuriating.
  • The Versus crew did a fine job of isolating some horrible decision-making by Kevin Klein tonight. At one point a trio of Canucks had him spinning in circles, and on the lone goal, he let himself get completely pulled out of position, opening up the slot.
  • I'm all for calling a tight game, but the referees went a little overboard tonight, and it went both ways. The Ballard penalty for Clipping in the 2nd period sure looked like a nice hip-check to me.
  • There was so much casual puckhandling in the offensive zone, it became maddening at times. The Vancouver defense was right there most of the time to pick those up and reverse the play. In particular, the Ward-Legwand-Erat line was utterly ineffective.
  • It was nice to see the Predators get a little more pressure in the 3rd period, but that was due in part to the Canucks laying off the forecheck and letting Nashville break out of their own zone. They still had tremendous difficulty getting clear shots once in the Vancouver end, and rebound opportunities were almost non-existent.
  • Heading into Game 2? It may be time to dust off Colin Wilson, but the biggest problems tonight were penalties and faceoffs. Nashville will need to compete harder & smarter on Saturday night in Game Two, but the best news of all is that Pekka Rinne just had his best game of the playoffs so far.
  • While we're noting some positives, we should also observe that Shane O'Brien may have had his best game of the playoffs tonight. He was physical without taking any penalties, and made the front of the net as hostile an environment as he could for guys like Alex Burrows.

As for those advanced even-strength stats...

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Martin Erat R 14:12 0 0 1 2 4 8 -4 10 18 -8
 Mike Fisher C 13:28 0 0 0 1 8 3 +5 10 9 +1
 David Legwand C 12:00 1 1 0 0 2 6 -4 10 15 -5
 Joel Ward R 11:43 1 2 0 1 4 5 -1 8 10 -2
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 11:28 2 0 0 0 7 2 +5 9 5 +4
 Nick Spaling C 10:56 0 0 0 0 3 6 -3 7 9 -2
 Jordin Tootoo R 10:33 2 1 0 0 4 6 -2 9 10 -1
 Jerred Smithson R 9:08 1 0 1 1 3 5 -2 6 6 0
 Matt Halischuk R 8:24 0 0 1 0 1 3 -2 6 7 -1
 Steve Sullivan L 8:07 1 0 0 0 3 3 0 7 7 0
 Blake Geoffrion C 7:54 1 1 0 2 2 3 -1 6 7 -1
 Patric Hornqvist R 7:18 2 0 0 0 4 1 +3 7 5 +2
 Ryan Suter D 17:33 0 1 1 2 7 7 0 12 16 -4
 Shea Weber D 17:11 1 1 0 2 5 6 -1 11 14 -3
 Jonathon Blum D 14:48 0 0 0 1 6 8 -2 11 16 -5
 Kevin Klein D 13:21 2 1 1 0 6 8 -2 11 15 -4
 Cody Franson D 11:03 1 1 1 1 4 3 +1 9 7 +2
 Shane O`Brien D 9:00 0 1 0 1 2 2 0 8 4 +4
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