Nashville Predators 3, Vancouver Canucks 2: Johansen’s Late Strike Keeps Preds in Central Contention

It looked bleak late in the third, but the best line made the best play at the best time.

The Nashville Predators are still alive for the Central Division title after a rousing third-period comeback on Thursday evening, scoring twice in the final 4:20 to hand the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 loss at Bridgestone Arena.

Things didn’t look so good early on, however.

Wayne Simmonds went off for hooking at 6:50 of the first period, and the ensuing penalty kill nearly gave Viktor Arvidsson a chance at goal No. 34, but Jacob Markstrom held strong to keep the game scoreless.

The Canucks struck first a short time later, as Markus Granlund opened the scoring 8:49 into the period.

Vancouver went back on the power play with 2:01 left in the first after Nashville was caught with too many men on the ice. The Canucks made the Preds pay for that with 12 seconds left as Tanner Pearson’s shot went off the crossbar, off of Pekka Rinne’s back and in the net.

Colton Sissons cut the Canucks’ lead in half 37 seconds into the second period, sneaking a shot through Markstrom’s pads — although the play was originally whistled dead. After a short review, the goal was ruled good as the puck never stopped moving.

Quinn Hughes hooked Mikael Granlund, putting the Predators on their first power play of game 6:36 into the second period. Nothing came of it, but Nashville got another chance at the 10:21 mark when Elias Petterson hauled down Arvidsson.

Nashville kept the pressure on in the third period and it looked like it resulted in the game-tying goal by Nick Bonino with 4:20 to play...but Vancouver challenged for goaltender interference. The call on the ice stood, putting the Predators even.

With overtime looming, the JOFA line took matters into their own hands, as Ryan Johansen scored with 20.4 seconds to play in regulation to give the Predators the lead.

Random Observations

  • So it’s Social Media Night and the Preds are wearing their Twitter handles on the back of their...road warmups. Let’s just say it makes for a weird viewing experience.
  • It’s bright on the ice, and there’s a reason for that — those are new lights.
  • We get a Granlund-versus-Granlund matchup as Mikael’s younger brother, Markus, is on the fourth line for Vancouver.
  • Kyle Turris put a few extra miles per hour on that shot...
  • ...meanwhile, St. Louis is up 2-0 just 3:28 into its game with Philadelphia, so don’t count on any help from the Flyers tonight.
  • Arvy saw that loose puck like a dog sees a full food bowl as suppertime.
  • Okay, now it’s 4-2 St. Louis, still in the first. What?
  • Forsberg breaking out the butt check again.
  • The Turris line has been out here doing work. Everybody else has a bit of catching up to do.
  • Too many men on the ice and it’s a dangerous time with 2:01 left in the first. Can’t give one up late here.
  • And yet, they did on a fluky bounce.
  • Philly’s cut it to 5-3...after 1
  • A quick whistle by Kevin Pollack on a Colton Sissons shot? Where have we seen that before?
  • At least on this one, they got it right.
  • This is the kind of start to the second period they badly needed, given the current scores.
  • They’re rare, we know, but it’s a good time for a power play goal.
  • Well, so much for that. (I wrote this 30 seconds before the power play ended.)
  • Dan Hamhuis came oh-so-close to his first goal of the season and it would have been a timely one.
  • A great sequence just after that power play, but you have to finish.
  • Pekka Rinne doing Pekka Rinne stuff.
  • Now 6-3 St. Louis after 40 minutes. Can’t count on Philadelphia for anything, I guess.
  • Any help from the Avs so far? Nope.
  • Roman Josi with a fantastic look but oh, hey, there’s that man Markstrom again.
  • This is the biggest call of the season. I think it’s coming back.
  • Well, sometimes it’s good to be wrong.
  • (looks at scoreboard) It’s 7-3 Blues. The pressure mounts to get these two points.
  • A monster goal at a monster time. /

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Ryan Johansen. Obvious reasons.
  2. Nick Bonino. Obvious reasons.
  3. Kyle Turris. Not-so-obvious reasons. He did everything but score.

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