The Vancouver Canucks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals. Ryan Kesler made a spectacular rush through the Nashville Predators defense and scored the go ahead goal at 7:28 of the third period and Henrik Sedin scored an empty net goal as Vancouver beat Nashville 4-2 and took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series. The Canucks will have a chance to wrap up the series on Saturday when they host the Predators at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Nashville came out strong early in the first period; they seemed to have a lot of energy as they played in front of another sellout crowd but could not beat Luongo. As the period went along Vancouver started to outshoot and outskate Nashville as they have done for most of the series. The Canucks opened the scoring when Christian Ehrhoff blast from the point beat Rinne who was being screened by Alex Burrows and Vancouver went up 1-0. Shortly after scoring the opening goal Kesler had a chance to put the Canucks up 2-0 when he had a partial breakaway but Rinne made the stop. With just under two minutes remaining in the period Sammy Solo was given a penalty for delay of game when his clearing pass went into the crowd without touching the glass. The NHL really needs to eliminate this penalty, obviously he didn’t shoot it into the crowd on purpose, and he was clearly trying to bank it off the glass. Even though Nashville was being outplayed they were able to go into the intermission tied 1-1 when Joel Ward was left alone in front of Luongo by defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and he was able to beat Luongo on a rebound shot and Nashville finally scored their first power play goal of the series.
Vancouver scored the only goal of the second period when Alexander Edler’s blast from the point beat the Nashville goaltender; Rinne who has been spectacular in the series should have stopped the shot as he had a clear view of the shot. Nashville had a great opportunity to tie the score when they had a 5 on 3 power play but failed to score and maybe that is where Nashville lost the game.
Nashville knew they had to score the next goal if they were going to have any chance of winning the game as so far in the series neither team has had a 2 goal lead, and indeed Nashville scored the next goal. Cody Franzen scored his first goal of the playoffs when he blasted a point shot past Luongo, the players didn’t realize the puck was in the net for a moment as it got stuck underneath the camera inside the net. The team that shows the best discipline generally ends up winning the game a fact that apparently Ryan Suter was not aware of. Suter for some reason grabbed Kesler around the neck and through Kesler to the ice right in front of the ref and was given a holding penalty. Suter’s lack of discipline cost the Predators just 1:07 into the power play when Kesler made a beautiful individual play by cutting back and sneaking through the Nashville defense and wristed a shot past Rinne to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead. Nashville made a valiant attempt to tie the score until Henrik Sedin scored an empty net goal and sealed the victory. With San Jose leading Detroit 3-0, it would be in Vancouver’s best interest to end the series on Saturday so they will have a few days off before the Western Conference Finals.
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Written by Kevin Kelly