Ryan Kesler scored his second goal of the game in overtime as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 and took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Semi Finals. It was Ryan Kesler’s first two goals of the playoffs, he also assisted on Vancouver’s other goal scored by Chris Higgins.
Vancouver had a strong first period out shooting Nashville 15-8, but it was Nashville that scored the only goal of the first period, it was the first time a goal has been scored in the first period so far in the series. David Legwand scored his third goal of the playoffs when he beat Luongo on a delayed penalty to Vancouver, Ryan Suter passed the puck to Legwand in the slot and he beat Luongo to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Nashville had a chance to make it 2-0 late in the first period when Steve Sullivan had a breakaway, but Luongo was there to make a big stop.
Vancouver got the scoring early in the second period on the power play. Ryan Kesler scored at the 1:00 mark of the second period when he had an easy tap in goal on a pass from Christian Ehrhoff to tie the score a 1-1. It was Vancouver’s first power play of the series. The second period was faster and more physical than the first two games; Nashville had no shots on goal in the first twelve minutes of the period as Vancouver had the better of the play and outshot Nashville again 9-4.
In the third period Vancouver took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Chris Higgins. Higgins was initially stopped on a breakaway, but circled into the slot where he wristed the puck past a frustrated Rinne. It looked like Vancouver might be able to win in regulation until Joel Ward had other ideas. Ward scored with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period when he did a wrap around shot that deflected off Vancouver defensemen Ehrhoff and went behind Luongo to even the score at 2-2. Ward’s goal seemed to give Nashville the momentum, as they had more energy and put more pressure on Vancouver and had them on their heels and it brought the Nashville fans back in the game. The third period ended tied and for the second straight game it would take overtime to decide a winner.
In overtime there was frantic action at both ends and Rinne made a big glove save on Jannik Hansen to keep the game going. At 10:05 of overtime a questionable hooking call on Nashville defensemen Shea Weber gave Vancouver a rare power play in overtime and they didn’t take long to end the game. Mikael Samuelsson shot from the point was deflected by Kesler and just: 30 seconds into the power play Vancouver lead the series 2-1, they will have a chance to go up 3-1 in the series on Thursday.
NOTES: Kevin Bieksa has the most hits in the playoffs with 34. The Sedin twins continue to struggle as they were a combined - 4.
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Written by Kevin Kelly