There has been nothing but respect from the two Conference Semi Final combatants in all of their interviews and that has even spread to the fanbases.
Canuck fans know that the Predators are a good team. They have watched them be a good team for a few years now, and it was never that easy to win in Smashville even when there was a less then excellent team there.
For their first home game in the second round in the teams’ history, Nashville and their fans were amped. he Canucks did a good job of keeping the opposition crowd quiet at points throughout this game.
The Sedins had a very good game without scoring again. Well, Daniel had a power play assist on Kesler’s first. It is telling though, that the primary matchup for Barry Trotz in this game was the Weber/Suter tandem. The Sedins saw them as well, and they were much better playing with Burrows. But a concerted five man check, mainly the Spaling/Smithson/Tootoo line managed to bend but not break, splitting time with Shane Obrien and Franson and/or Klein, and the Suter / Weber guys when they came out of TV timeouts, or Kesler’s line had went off on a short shift.
The Twins with Burrows combined for 10 shots ( Daniel 7/Henrik 2/ Burrows 1), and forced the play at times throughout the game. Their problem came at the other end, where they were both a -2 tonight. The Predator’s scored on a power play the Twins were on, a shorty where there was going to be a penalty called,
…and a goal where Ward’s wrap around went in off of anywhere from one to three skates. On a play where Henrik won the face off. A bit unlucky.
In between that the game was all Canucks. Yes, the Predators keep it close, and they did have some chances here and there off the rush. Full credit for the hard work indicative of both goals. But the better team won tonight.
Their first goal came from a power play that was looking like the Predators had their number. The #1 PP showed some delightful skill here… ( on a dumb dumb penalty on Smithson late in the first, where he clipped Luongo in the face while covering the defender behind the net )
…that gave Kesler an open net to bang it home. It came late in that power play that was not looking good on the scoresheet, but awesome on the ice, generating chances.
It was Kesler’s linemates five on five that helped that line power the Canucks tonight. Higgins had four shots on goal, and was a force for Suter and Weber both to handle. He was the one that started the play on his goal that gave the Canucks the lead, before the Ward goal above tied it up again… (great work by Kesler keeping the puck alive after the first shot is saved )
Tonight though, it will be the predators bemoaning the referees. They had a couple shots that were dangerous in the O/T, and on one shift where they had pressure, Smithson flat out “blew up” Bieksa. It was into the back though. You got the feeling that the referee wanted to call it, but Bieksa was OK, so he let it go. The Kesler line pressured in the other end, and when Weber went to Kesler on the boards, he worked him over hard. His stick was definitely in the hands as well , so I can see why he made the call in O/T. ( though Barry Trotz said Kesler “chicken winged” it in there, essentially saying Kesler held the stick in there ).
Perhaps. Or Perhaps they were doing a bit of the “make up call” for not penalizing the Smithson hit. Regardless, it was the power play that looked very strong, holding the puck, working it up to Samuelsson, who got a very tippable puck on net. Kesler tipped it, and there you go, game over.
The best team won. The right team won. They carried the play and outshot their opponents 47 to 30. Once again the goaltender Rinne was great. Tonight it was traffic and a tip on the winner. That is the way they will beat these guys. Rinne is a wonderful goalie. But even he cannot stop what he cannot see.
That’s the way to do it. The Canucks may have laid back in the third, trying to nurse it home. They had to play extra hockey as a result. perhaps pushing it more would be preferable. A lesson learned perhaps. They owned the play so much tonight, it is hard to give them that kind of static on what can only be called a lucky goal ( again ! )on the Ward tally. But consider that the Canucks prevented the Preds getting a shot in the second until 3 minutes were left in the middle period. At home. After giving up the first period lead.
Tonight it was Kesler breaking out in a big way. Do not bet against it being the Twins in Game 4.