Many people, including myself, thought Matt Halischuk should have been benched tonight in favor of Colin Wilson.
Consider the haters silenced.
Halischuk sent the game-winner by Roberto Luongo that tied this series at 1-1 heading back to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday. And they'll need the extra rest. It took almost 35 extra minutes to decide this one, and the fatigue was obvious, as guys were struggling to make it down the ice towards the end of the game.
Follow after the jump for highlights, and some post-game thoughts.
- The first bullet HAS to go to Pekka Rinne. I can say, without a doubt, that Rinne played the best game I have ever seen him play as a Nashville Predator tonight. Rinne was unbelievable, turning away 32 of 33 Vancouver shots in the win. And the one goal he let in was a short-handed, quick turnover goal with two blue shirts in front of the net. Oh, and attention national media: It's Pekka REE-NAY. Not RUH-NAY, or RHINE. More on Rinne later.....
- It looked like we were going to have our first Shea Weber slapshot post-season casualty tonight, when he sent a blast into the ear of Martin Erat. Erat went off for a few minutes, but was back on right away, and Predator fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Because.....
- If Rinne hadn't been the maniac that he was tonight, I would have given tonight's Predator Of The Game award to Martin Erat. Erat was everywhere tonight, leading the team with six shots on net. He also took a couple of brutal hits, including the Shea Weber slap shot to the head.
- For all the pub Shea Weber gets, and he certainly deserves every ounce of it, Ryan Suter is one helluva player, and he was on tonight. Twice he broke up two-on-ones that are especially dangerous against the high-flying Canucks. He also had the game-tying goal which, while it was a little fluky, was a heads-up play. Suter got his own rebound off the boards and sent it in front, which eventually went in off the inside of the left skate of Roberto Luongo, forcing overtime.
- Enter Pekka Rinne: Rinne put the team on his back in every sense of the word in both overtime periods, making save after save that extended this game and gave the stagnant Nashville offense more chances to score. I know you just watched them in the game highlights, but here are two of the beauties from the extra periods:
And this one has to be considered the save of the post-season. If Tim Thomas' two-on-one rob against Montreal got its own commercial, this one needs to be played during every break on NHL Network for the next 50 years:
- Matt Halishcuk keeps making Barry Trotz' job harder and harder every day. On the day when many thought Colin Wilson should have started in favor of him, Hustlechuck nets a game-winning, overtime goal, easily the biggest of his career. Say what you want about his play, but I feel like every time we start saying he should be benched, Halischuk cranks his play up and makes a huge impact.
- Speaking of a huge impact, here's a stat for you: Ryan Suter's time-on-ice was a whopping 42:01 and Shea Weber's was 42:12. It's clear who Barry Trotz trusts in crunch time, and rightfully so. Weber and Suter are easily the best non-Finnish players on the Predators' roster.
- And, a bonus bullet: I can't even believe we're talking about this, but....
- I'm not usually one to harp on announcers being biased. It's usually a matter of perspective, but tonight VS sent me over the edge. During the intermission highlights after the first overtime, Keith Jones was talking about Rinne's
save stealarmed robbery of Kevin Bieska and said "hopefully Vancouver will win this game." Again, I hate to call announcers biased, but even a Vancouver fan can't argue with that one.
- All in all this was a huge win for Nashville. The defense stifled the Vancouver attack for most of the game, Rinne is playing as well as he ever has, and the offense has found a way to score. Nashville definitely has the upper-hand in the series right now, heading back to
hellBridgestone Arena tied at 1-1. They'll need the extra rest, but Nashville had better come out hard like they did tonight if they want to take the lead in the series.
As always, head on over and see the good folks at Nucks Misconduct for the Vancouver perspective on tonight's game.