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Nashville Predators 3, Vancouver Canucks 5: Comeback Fails as Injured Preds Fall Short

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An attempt was made.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators flew into Vancouver still down four of their better players after a grinding home win against the Sabres. The Canucks, a rebuilding team with some great young talent and some work to do, managed a convincing win over the Preds tonight.

Pekka Rinne was tested early and often, as some iffy defensive coverage left the Canucks with excellent chances in front of the goal. Play continued in the Predators’ end for a while before Ryan Johansen and new linemates Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman found the offensive zone.

Whatever momentum the Preds might have been working on building was cancelled out when Austin Watson took an early penalty and Alex Edler promptly scored a power play goal. Calle Jarnkrok responded by drawing a penalty from Edler, which would have been much more useful if the Predators had a better power play. Alas, the power play’s struggles continued, and the Canucks held their lead.

In the last third of the period, the Canucks somehow managed several frightening-looking rushes into the Preds’ zone without the Predators ever seeming to get out of it. Rinne made some great saves and some very lucky ones, including one on Brock Boeser and Elias Petterson where he left his net completely. Sadly, with less than a minute left in the period, Bo Horvat got another past Rinne, and the Preds entered the first intermission down 0-2.

Calle Jarnkrok started the second period off by taking his second penalty of the year, though this time the Predators managed to kill off the penalty.

After another few minutes during which the Preds did just about nothing good or worth mentioning, Ryan Hartman managed to tip a puck into the net with what looked like a high stick. The call on the ice was goal, and the referees were apparently unable to find conclusive evidence that the stick had not been high; the goal stood.

However, Jake Virtanen got the goal almost right back, on another rush after a questionable missed call when Derrick Pouliot arguably interfered with Roman Josi as the play began. I don’t like talking about the referees as much as it’s been necessary to the last few minutes, but there’ve been some questionable calls both ways.

As the second period wound down, the Predators picked up the pace a little. Colton Sissons got a breakaway of his own, but was thwarted by Jacob Markstrom, his own limbs, and the wanton cruelty of fate. Rocco Grimaldi also had some chances, as did the rest of the fourth line, helped by Josi and Ryan Ellis.

Whatever momentum the Predators might have been scraping together was, once again, shattered when Elias Petterson got a breakaway, was awarded a penalty shot, and scored with just a little over a minute left in the second period. Seconds after, Mattias Ekholm was called for something that Hartman might have been responsible for, and the Predators ended the period on the penalty kill, with the buzzer coming just in time.

Juuse Saros started the third period in net. The Canucks kept up the pressure and scored just as their power play expired. The Preds’ penalty kill has looked a lot better in the past—Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber were just standing there on the goal, and the forwards weren’t doing much either.

That seemed to wake the Predators up, too late for a comeback, and the team got some pressure going in the offensive end. Eventually, Colton Sissons scored off a nice sequence of passes, bringing the Preds within three with just under fifteen minutes to play.

Some extremely lively action at both ends followed, with Roussel missing on another rush, immediately followed by Markstrom making an excellent save to hold the Canucks’ lead. The neutral zone was basically the Autobahn tonight. The Predators kept pushing, even as the game wound down towards the final buzzer, but were unable to finish the comeback. There was a glimmer of hope, when Matt Irwin’s shot squeaked into the net to bring the Predators within two with under a minute and a half, but no joy.

Random Observations:

  • Pekka Rinne is awake. Not sure about everyone else.
  • Fiala and Hartman are trying to make some good things happen.
  • So, guys, to find the offensive zone you start where Rinne is and then you take the puck as far away from him as you can. If you go far enough, you’ll find a second goalie.
  • There you go!
  • Yannick Weber is headed down the tunnel after a hit. Can we get an exorcist in here? Cursebreaker? Something?
  • Oh, boy, a power play.
  • Yber returns.
  • That particular defensive breakdown was at least due to Josi falling over at center ice instead of anyone making a deliberately poor decision. I guess that’s a bright side.
  • Good lord, Rinne.
  • Good grief, Rinne.
  • You almost scraped out of that period just down one, but you just couldn’t do it, huh.
  • Hat tip to @JasonBroughTSN for pointing this out: Petterson and Josh Leivo rocking the 100% shot share after the first period (+9/-0 shots), with Boeser having been on ice for one additional shot for and against. Ridiculous.
  • The rest of the #fancystats aren’t much prettier than that one.
  • Chris Mason is trying to convince everyone to stay awake by promising a third-period comeback, so now we know who to blame when that doesn’t happen.
  • (Who to blame: someone roll the injuries footage.)
  • Jarnkrok has had an excellent game so far. It’s a shame he had to go and take a penalty.
  • It’s BC kid Colton Sissons’s birthday, and his mom is here! Surely the Predators can’t disappoint Colton Sissons’s mom on h—
  • I will take credit for that Hartman goal and Tim Peel’s baffling change of heart, thanks.
  • Oh. Never mind.
  • A Preds skater made a defensive play! (It was Josi on Antoine Roussel, but hey, it’s a start.)
  • Another Preds skater made a defensive play, but he got called for it. (It was Ekholm on Petterson, and it was not a start.)
  • I can’t believe I still have to watch another period of this.
  • Oh, Saros in net, I guess we’re sharing the misery tonight.
  • Sissons did not, in fact, disappoint his mother on her birthday. Well done.
  • They’re doing the wave in Vancouver.
  • I really really hope nobody else got hurt tonight.

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Matt Irwin — you know what? Why not. He led the Preds in shots at goal (7), 5v5 on-ice shot share (77% per naturalstattrick.com), 5v5 on-ice expected goal share (68% per corsica.hockey), took no penalties, made no mistakes leading to goals-against, and he scored a goal. What more can we ask of the man?
  2. Ryan Hartman — he tried. He had a goal back while it was still a game, which makes him unique among the Preds.
  3. Calle Jarnkrok — he tried too. If the Preds’ power play had just been a little bit better...

Tweets of the Night: