The Nashville Predators put up a valiant effort before falling to the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 at the Bridgestone Arena. The Canucks now lead the series 3-1 and can close out the Predators in Vancouver on Saturday night.
The Predators opened with good jump and pressured the Canucks early in the contest. They were unable to get any pucks past Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, while his counterpart, Pekka Rinne, was perfect in net for the Predators.
That would change at 15:04 of the first period as Christian Ehrhoff would launch a shot from the blue line. Rinne was clipped by Alex Burrows and the shot found the back of the net. There was no call on the play as it was deemed by referee Kelly Sutherland that the contact was incidental and that Rinne was outside the blue paint.
Definitely a questionable call, but the goal was allowed to stand.
Joel Ward would tie the game on the power play at 19:18 of the first period. Wardo was camped at the top of the blue paint and gathered in the rebound of a Cody Franson shot and put the puck through Luongo five hole.
The Canucks would take the lead at 9:43 of the second period as Alex Edler would pot his second goal of the playoffs with a wrist shot that beat Rinne.
The Predators answered at 3:27 of the third period as Cody Franson's bullet from the blue line eluded Luongo, and for a moment the officials. Everyone searched for the puck, and lo and behold it was in the back of the net. The tying score sent the partisan home crowd into a frenzy and gave the Predator faithful hope that they could tie the series.
That momentum would ebb away at 7:28 of the third with Ryan Suter in the box for holding, Ryan Kessler would tally a power play goal by splitting the defense and beating Rinne with a wrist shot to give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.
The Predators put good pressure on Luongo, but could not get a puck past him. With Rinne pulled for the extra attacker, Henrik Sedin scored an empty netter for the final margin of victory at 4-2.
The Predators lost Jerred Smithson after the first period after he took a Ryan Kessler elbow to the face. No call was made on the play, and the Predators were down a player that was a key part of their shutdown line. Smithson has already been called out for the game in Vancouver.
It's no secret that the Canucks are a good team. Heck, they are a great team. However, they are beatable if the Predators play their game.
Unfortunately for the Predators, their backs are now against the wall and they have one more opportunity to play their game. By the way, it will be in Vancouver in front of a raucous group of Canucklehead fans.
No small task, eh?
If the Predators focus on playing one game at a time, no, if they focus on playing one shift at a time, and battle the way they have done all season, then they have an opportunity to return the series to Nashville.
It is a steep hill, no doubt. But the Predators have climbed a steep hill all season.
The task is enormous, but the Predators cannot be daunted. They have to play balls to wall for one game. That is the priority. The Canucks are a worthy opponent.
So are we.
So here is your charge, boys.
Bring it back to Nashville. Bring it back by playing all out. Win puck battles. Play smart. Play all out.
Play like there is no tomorrow.
Because there isn't.