Joel Ward scored two third period goals and Nashville beat Vancouver 4-3 to force a sixth game in their Western Conference semi-finals series. This was the first time Nashville has won when facing elimination; they had lost their 5 previous elimination games.
Vancouver came out like they wanted to end the series tonight, as they were outskating Nashville and firing shots at Nashville goaltender Rinne from all angles, but it was Nashville that opened the scoring. Mikael Samuelson fanned on his shot and the puck was stolen by Joel Ward who passed the puck to David Legwand who beat Luongo on a short-handed breakaway and a sold out Rogers Arena was in shock, Nashville had the all important first goal. Vancouver responded quickly to Legwand’s short-handed goal as Jannik Hansen stole the puck from the Nashville defense and he passed the puck to a wide open Raffi Torres and he slid the puck under Rinne’s glove and the score was tied 1-1. Vancouver then took the lead when Kesler tipped the puck past Rinne on a 2 on 1 and they went into the intermission leading 2-1. Nashville has activated their defense with a much more aggressive style which led to numerous odd man rushes for Vancouver.
Nashville knew they needed to score the next goal if they want to have a chance to win the game and stave off elimination and that is exactly what they did early in the second period on a lucky break. David Legwand from behind the Vancouver net flipped the puck over the net and it bounced off Vancouver defensemen Alexander Edler and went into the Vancouver net and just: 51 seconds into the period the game was tied. The goal by Legwand gave Nashville momentum and had Vancouver on their heels as Nashville was playing at a much higher pace then the first period. Vancouver defensemen Dan Hamhuis almost scored on his own net when the puck bounced off his stick and was heading into the Vancouver net until Luongo slid over and made the save. After being outshot 12-5 in the first period, the shots in the second period were even at 8-8.
Nashville scored early in first and second periods and once again they scored early in the third period. Mike Fisher passed the puck to a wide open Joel Ward who one timed a shot past Luongo just 74 seconds into the third period to give Nashville a 3-2 advantage. Joel Ward was not done though as just 4:31 later Vancouver turned the puck over in their own end and Ward wristed the puck past Luongo and Ward had his second goal of the game and gave Nashville a two goal lead for the first time in the series. Ward had a chance to get a hat trick when he had a short-handed breakaway but Luongo kept Vancouver in the game with a pad save. Ryan Kesler scored his second goal of the game with about four minutes remaining in the third period but Vancouver could not score again and Nashville forced a game six on Monday in Nashville.
Notes: Vancouver failed to score on four power play opportunities…Sedin twins once again held pointless.
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Written by Kevin Kelly