Canucks fire away at Preda­tors to get sur­prise win over West’s best

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - PATRICK JOHN­STON pjohn­[email protected]­ twit­­gac­tion

You knew the Canucks weren’t go­ing to lose for­ever. And you also knew that not all matchups go to plan.

So it might not be sur­pris­ing that the Canucks ended their lat­est los­ing string with a fun 5-3 win over the vis­it­ing Nashville Preda­tors Thurs­day night at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks got big goals, took only one penalty, got some out­stand­ing saves from Ja­cob Mark­strom and, yes, a thrilling penal­tyshot goal from Elias Pet­ters­son.

They chased Preda­tors goalie Pekka Rinne, the first time an op­po­nent switched their goalie mid-game since the Bru­ins did in Bos­ton in a game that seems an eter­nity ago.

The Canucks got a power-play goal from Alex Edler to open the game, and then a pair of rush goals from Bo Hor­vat and Jake Vir­ta­nen. Pet­ters­son’s penal­tyshot goal stood as the win­ner; Loui Eriks­son added a fifth early in the third.

The Preda­tors got a sec­ond­pe­riod goal from Ryan Hart­man on a tip that most peo­ple, save ref­eree Tim Peel and the NHL video goal re­view team in Toronto, thought was a high stick, as well as a third-pe­riod marker from Colton Sis­sons, who took a cross-ice pass and fired past the scram­bling Mark­strom af­ter the Canucks broke down de­fen­sively around the net. They picked up a third marker with 1:23 left, a point shot that bounced around then some­how car­omed into the net. Here’s what we learned from Fri­day’ 5-3 Canucks vic­tory at Rogers Arena:


Pet­ters­son was all over the ice — no sur­prise there — and so when he broke in alone late in the se­cond and then was fouled, it was a pretty easy call for ref­eree Peel to point to cen­tre, in­di­cat­ing it would be a penalty shot for the rookie sniper.

The crowd roared in agree­ment.

If Pet­ters­son felt any nerves, he sure didn’t show it as the crowd stayed on its feet when he took his spot at cen­tre ice.

That he took the slow ap­proach, swoop­ing out to his right to set up a likely right-toleft move on the goal, just added to the buzz in the build­ing. And then there was that move. Pet­ters­son slow-played Pavel Bure’s clas­sic right-left shimmy, leav­ing Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne sprawled out, with no chance to block what ended up be­ing a sim­ple wrist shot to score for Pet­ters­son.

Sim­ple for Pet­ters­son, that is.


The Canucks’ crease has not been a happy place for much of the sea­son. Mark­strom has made a great many fan­tas­tic saves, but too of­ten hasn’t had much help at key mo­ments, and it’s left him with a mis­er­able save per­cent­age.

But on Thurs­day, he was able to bail out his de­fence mul­ti­ple times, in mul­ti­ple ways. His glove was on point more than once. He got his legs in front of most shots, and put the re­bounds into the cor­ners. It was a very good night for Mark­strom.


With (ap­par­ently) flu-rid­den John Tor­torella break­ing coach­ing con­ven­tion thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away be­hind the Colum­bus bench on Thurs­day night by sport­ing a hoody, maybe the time has come for Travis Green to wear a chemist’s lab coat on Sun­day in St. Louis.

He found all the right com­bi­na­tions for his lineup on Thurs­day night, slot­ting Niko­lay Goldobin and Vir­ta­nen along­side Hor­vat.

Vir­ta­nen was fly­ing, set­ting up a goal for Hor­vat and then scor­ing one of his own on a set-up by An­toine Rous­sel.

The power play was also re­jigged, Goldobin slot­ting back in on the top unit on the left side, with Brock Boeser mov­ing into the pivot spot and work­ing in­ter­change­ably down low with Bo Hor­vat. Edler scored the game’s first goal on the man ad­van­tage, set up by Goldobin.

The Canucks’ se­cond unit also scored in the third pe­riod, though Eriks­son’s top-shelf shot ac­tu­ally came a se­cond af­ter a penalty to Nashville’s Mat­tias Ekholm had ex­pired.


Edler scored a goal, and a shift later threw a big hit. It was a vin­tage pair of mo­ments for the 32-year-old blue-liner.

First, there was the one-timed slap shot from the point that some­how eluded Rinne’s glove on a first­pe­riod power play.

Edler had swooped slightly out of the zone be­fore Goldobin re­leased the cross-ice pass, but came back in, stick raised high, and primed to ham­mer the shot.

He tried the move again on a se­cond-pe­riod power play, but didn’t get the pass. Still, on both oc­ca­sions there were shades of Sami Salo’s enor­mous swoop out to cen­tre be­fore ham­mer­ing home a goal against the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 play­offs.

On his next shift, Edler found him­self in per­fect po­si­tion to lay

a huge hit on for­mer team­mate Yan­nick We­ber. The Preda­tors de­fence­man looked to have the wind knocked out of him as he made his way back to the vis­i­tors’ bench.


Af­ter Edler’s opener, the next two Canucks goals were fab­u­lous ef­forts on the rush.

The first saw Vir­ta­nen saucer a pass across to Hor­vat, who calmly knocked the puck down to set­tle it, then roofed his shot over the sprawl­ing Rinne.

That was with 27 sec­onds left in the first pe­riod.

At 8:57 of the se­cond, Vir­ta­nen turned re­ceiver, tak­ing a gor­geous back-hand saucer pass from Rous­sel and fir­ing the puck home into the open cage, Rinne still pretty much fac­ing Rous­sel when Vir­ta­nen col­lected and shot the puck.

Rinne is a big man, but you make him move and holes ap­pear ev­ery­where.

Hor­vat’s goal, by the way, gave the Canucks their first 2-0 first in­ter­mis­sion lead of the sea­son.


Did you see it? Pet­ters­son tested Rinne from an ex­treme an­gle, see­ing if he could catch the goalie lean­ing. He flipped the puck to­ward Rinne’s shoul­der from the cor­ner in the first pe­riod.

The big Finn didn’t even flinch.


Canucks de­fence­man Erik Gud­bran­son checks the Nashville Preda­tors’ Ro­man Josi at Rogers Arena on Thurs­day.

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