The Nashville team had their best game since Game 2. There is simply no way that should have been enough. Some luck, some lapses by the Canucks, and we are going back to Nashville for Monday night.
This game will be a litmus test for what kind of fan you are of the Vancouver team. Make no mistake, the Preds worked hard for their win. Full marks. But they got more luck than they deserved. Be warned. Pissed off writer here. As much as I hate to talk about the referees, once again they made themselves part of the story. Preds fans will call it breaks or luck…
Some of that luck was produced by the standard at which this one was officiated as well. The Predators deserved far more calls against if we looked at how the other games have been called. They were allowed to hold, hook, and slash with impunity at some points in this game. Punches to the face went uncalled. A play in which David Legwand went after Erhoff’s head with two crosschecks was somehow a call for both to go off. Dan O’Rourke and Paul Devorski did the same in the third when Fisher repeated the deed with the German.
It was tough to watch them allow the Preds, especially Shane O’Brien, who deserved three or four calls and only got one late, impunity at using football tactics to slow the better team down, especially in the first, but with far too much regularity. They must have REALLY wanted another home date for the Nashville owner.
For all that, David Legwand and Joel Ward both had themselves one %$^& of a game. Each. Even when Spaling was knocked out of the game in the second on a hit by Salo, the Preds and their team worked very hard. But luck had a lot to do with them being in the game still when that hard work took over.
In the first period, the Canucks outshot them 12 to 5, were the faster team, and had by far the better chances. Ryan Kesler was 9 of 10 in the circle after one period, for instance. The Sedins were buzzing. Rinne deserves to be applauded for his work again tonight, but even he was lucky on some shots that were deflected. Or others in the first, when he fought the puck, where he was out of position. His team helped him out blocking shots very well tonight. They blocked 30 shots tonight, with Klein and Fisher leading the way with 6 each, and Suter another 5.
Yet, on the game’s first power play, on the Pred’s first shot, this is what Luongo had to deal with.
Not only the turnover by Samuelsson and Edler, but Ehrhoff was far to deep to get back to help. It was the start of an uncertain night for the defenseman scoring leader for the Canucks. They ended up wasting a precious power play ( though they did not know that they would not get many chances tonight. There were only 3 calls tonight. Yes, the Canucks got the advantage 2 to 1. They deserved far more in this game based on effort and how the series has been called.
The push back was almost immediate though, when some good work by Hansen and Torres resulted in a tying goal that put the energy back in the building.
The breakout star of this series has been Ryan Kesler. He certainly added to his legend tonight. Check out this goal. All speed and effort. A 200′ play. Yes, that is Shea Weber he beats badly.
So, with a dominant period, the Canucks best player being their best player, what can go wrong? Well, just :51 into the middle frame, this happens…
David Legwand could not get that to happen again if he tried. Its not even a shot. Its certainly not the fault of the goalie. But it was an extremely lucky goal. You could see how it energized the Predators. They came on and played some of their best hockey of the night in the second. Perhaps the Canucks sagged a little on the unbelievable bad fortune, but they did push back.
For his good luck, David Legwand got caught by the CBC guys doing the worst thing a real “man” can do in hockey. The Ducks’ GM accused this team of horrible diving in their series. He may just have had a point. In the second, after a shift where they had gotten offensive zone coverage, Legwand went through the slot, and then, miraculously, went down like we had a sniper in the rink. He worked the refs for two TV timeouts afterwards. Did it affect the rest of the game and the calls? Who knows, they aint talking. But he got a break in the period on the 4 on 4 with Ehrhoff. Because this supposed “heart and soul” guy, when he went down, was not touched, by anything. Replays clearly showed he was hit by nothing at all. That is cheating and dishonorable. Hopefully they remember it. The CBC crew did a good job of finding the evidence that David Legwand is a punk…but it helped his team this night, at least.
The Canucks had wonderful chances, in a period where both teams went back and forth. The Preds may have even been the slightly better team, though they had no answer for Kesler’s line. Even with some push back, the last half of the period was spent mainly in the visitor’s defensive zone. Rinne made some great saves on Higgins. Henrik and Daniel. The Sedins had a couple dominant shifts where it was amazing they did not score. Blocks and saves equally responsible for the frutration. A rush by Raymond, and another by Henrik on 2 on 1s, they maybe should have shot, but went for the pass.
This was why I mentioned the 4 on 4’s above. There were two tonight. Both were for centers for the Preds taking pretty blatant attempts to separate Ehrhoff’s head from his body. The one in the second on Legwand, its hard to imagine them not scoring if the power play is given. They certainly dominated on the 4 on 4. Suter and Weber both got away with tackles on the pressure.
Thats playoff hockey right!?
For all of that, you cannot discount Joel Ward. First, he made the most of a great pass from Fisher and beat Luongo, on a one timer he had no chance to stop.
It came just 1:14 into the third, and the Canucks seemed to sag. They were just pushing back when the eventual game winner came from Mr Ward, on a play the Canucks plain got outworked on. The fact is, for as well as the Twins played offensively, and should have scored, they were at fault defensively, as you see on this play…
Ryan Kesler missed some time in this game in the third when he was getting stitched after taking a puck in the face ( cut his chin ). He went back into beast mode when he returned, and the team rallied behind him. The fact that O’Brien and others both took pokes at the wound will be pointed at by Preds fans as “doing anything” to win.
Its not. It was another thing that other referee’s in this series have taken care of. The two tonight did not. Still, Kesler kept coming, and another of those heavy wristers beat Rinne to bring the game back to a one goal deficit.
With less than four minutes to go, the Canucks turned it on, and had some chances, but the Preds hung on for the victory.
My apologies for this recap coming off as a rant. Disappointed? Certainly. But more angry. Even with a lucky goal, the Preds victimized the Sedin line to score as well. But, they also got away with too much to give them credit for anything other than the hard work of some like Ward and Rinne.
The Preds complained about calls all series, and it finally worked for them. But they are not the better team in this series, and I will be shocked if we see a Game 7 in this one.
At least the Nashville owners get another home date though huh?