The Nashville Predators faced off against the Vancouver Canucks at the Bridgestone Arena in their first meeting of the year, and the Canucks won the goaltending duel by a 1-0 margin.
The winning goal was scored by Dale Weise at 9:14 of the third period as Maxim Lapierre carried the puck low in the Predators zone as the Predators were making a line change. Lapierre fired a shot that Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne kicked out with his right pad. The Predators defense was not in position because of the change and Wiese was all alone to bang in the rebound.
Roberto Luongo was stellar in goal, especially in the first period as the Predators fired 13 shots on net. Throughout the game, both Luongo and Rinne came up with big saves.
The Predators opened the game with good jump, dominating the Canucks in the first period with 13 shots and good defense. Vancouver did not record its first shot on net until 12:27 of the first, and its second at 3:37.
That changed in the second and third periods, as the Vancouver defense stepped up and Nashville could only record 5 shots in each period. Nashville had a power play late in the game and pulled Rinne for the extra attacker, but could not get a shot on net.
Rinne was tested in the second and third period and came up with some great saves, most notably on Jannik Hansen, who had a point blank shot from the low slot. Rinne had no chance on the goal by Wiese as the Predators line change behind the play left Weise alone in the slot.
The fourth line of Nick Splaing, Rich Clune, and Matt Halischuk was strong and played with good jump. They created several scoring opportunities and presented problems for the Canucks with the match up.
After the strong start, the Predators offensive effort faded fast, and this is disappointing. Gabriel Bouque , David Legwand, and Nick Spaling did not record a shot on net. The Predators have to have players that get shots on net, and more importantly, they have to have players that can finish. This was the story of the game for the Predators offensively in that they could not finish their chances.
The Canucks were going to make defensive adjustments, and they were very effective in the second and third period. However, the Predators lost a lot of puck battles and as a result, the Canucks had a lot of offensive zone time. The Predators have to be stronger on the puck and more determined to win these puck battles to establish their offense.
The Canucks lost defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who took two shifts in the second period and then went to the Canucks locker room. He left the game with a lower body injury.
The Predators played a tight game with the Canucks, who lead the Pacific Division are are 3rd in the West. That is a positive.
The Predators will look at this game as one that got away. Finish a couple of those chances and the Predators have a victory. Keep the offensive pressure up and the outcome may have been different.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
Disappointing yes. But there is no time to dwell on this as the Predators meet the Red Wings tomorrow night.
Finish your chances and the outcome will be different boys.
My three stars:
1. Roberto Luongo
2. Dale Weise
3. Pekka Rinne
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.