The Nashville Predators were defeated by the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in overtime courtesy of a weak second period that saw their offense disappear and an absolute horrific call by referee Tim Peel in overtime that allowed Ryan Kessler to score the game winner. With the win, the Canucks take a 2-1 series lead.
Tim Peel is a terrible official. Plain and simple. Sour grapes? Hardly. Peel watched the Canucks get caught with too many men on the ice in overtime yet failed to whistle the Canucks for the call. Yet when Kessler is holding Shea Weber's stick, he calls the Predators defense for a hooking call. Inexplicable and inexcusable. A terrible call from an official, who took it upon himself to affect the outcome of the game.
That is not to say that the Predators weren't culpable in this defeat.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a David Legwand short handed goal against Roberto Luongo at 10:18 of the first period, the Predators offense totally vanished in the second period. The Predators were outshot 9-4 in the second period, with most of those shots coming late. The Predators had only one shot on net through the first 14 minutes of the period. Their decision making with the puck through the neutral zone and in the offensive zone was woeful, and they were fortunate to be in the game with this type of play.
Vancouver tied the game at 1:00 of the second on a power play as Joel Ward was caught on a long shift and could not get off the ice. Ryan Kessler beat Ward to the front of the net and jammed the puck past Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne to tie the game.
Vancouver took a 2-1 lead in the third period as Chris Higgins scored on a broken play at at 3:03. Higgins was able to gather in a rebound and beat an out of position Rinne, who had made the save on a shot from Kessler. Higgins was able to beat the defense and Rinne, who were both out of position after the initial save.
The Predators started to swarm the net and put shots on Luongo. Joel Ward cashed in at 13:18 of the the third to tie the game. Both teams generated some chances in the remainder of the period, but neither could get a puck into the net.
For the second game in a row, we were headed to overtime.
Enter Tim Peel. Peel determined that he would decide the game on a specious hooking call against Weber. Kessler got Weber's stick under his arm and held it there. Weber tried to get his stick out, but Kessler had a tight grip on it. Up came Peel's arm. Holding the stick on Kessler was the obvious call.
However, Peel put the Canucks on the power play with an absolutely horrific hooking call against Weber. Kessler got open in front of the net and tipped the puck past Rinne for the game winner.
Thanks, Tim Peel.
If there is any justice in this world, Peel will be suspended for the rest of the playoffs. There is no place in the game for officiating that is as weak and corrupt as his effort tonight.
So be it.
Horrific officiating is part and parcel of NHL games. The Predators were victimized in part by this tonight. They were also victimized by their own lapses and poor play.
It is now time to bounce back. There is no time to hang your head or feel sorry for yourself.
It is time to come back strong against the Canucks and the officials.
Time to seize the momentum again.