Predatory tendencies


The Vancouver Canucks killer instinct took over as the Nashville Predators attempted to hand them a second straight loss at General Motors place.

Refusing to become another Nashville snack (who were red hot coming into the game, 8-1-1 in their last 10), the Canucks applied a very diligent  forecheck and were smart moving the puck out of their own zone.

The game opened a little tentatively, with both teams playing cautiously, collapsing to the net at any sign of danger.  This was to be expected, as the Predators are set on defense with an exceptional core, with shutdown players like Dan Hamhuis, and two-way players Shea Weber (both BC products)  and Ryan Suter.  Up and coming Cody Franson, Jonathan Blum and Ryan Ellis add testimony that General Manager David Poile is committed to building from the blueline out.

In an interesting sidebar, starter Pekka Rinne took the majority of shots in warm up, but it was Dan Ellis getting the nod between the pipes.  For the first 26 minutes of the game, it looked like he might not get beat, as his lateral movement was excellent, and was always square to the shooters, and there were many.  The Canucks outshot Nashville 14-6 in the first period, and 14-7 in the second.  Ellis finished the game saving 32 of 36 shots, while Luongo stopped 20 of 21.  Only Patric Hornqvist’s (late) forehand to backhand deke during a 3-on-1 eluding him.

Steve Bernier earned his 10th goal of the season, converting the rebound on a Tanner Glass shot from the slot for the game’s 1st goal.  Kyle Wellwood did some nice work along the right wing boards, and performed a nice spin around move to find Glass.

With 3:37 remaining in the 2nd period, Daniel Sedin scored a power play goal to make it 2-0.  Henrik set up on the half wall, then passed to the top of  the faceoff circle, where Daniel stopped quickly and released a wrister.  Alex Burrows had set the screen in front of the net, and Ellis was unable to find the shot.  Both Sedins would finish the night with a goal and 2 assists, and a +2 rating.

The Predators threatened to come back late in the second frame, with Patric Hornqvist getting two whacks at the puck with Roberto Luongo down in his crease, but the Canucks collapsed around him, getting the whistle to stop play.

Sami Salo all but put it away at 6:53 of the third, as the Canucks did a great job to keep the Preds from breaking out of their own zone.  Daniel wheeled at the left wing boards, fed Henrik who spotted Salo drifting in from the point, and Salo blew one under Ellis’ left arm, with Jannik Hansen providing traffic.

Henrik Sedin rounded out the Canucks’ scoring with his 16th of the season two and a half minutes later.  Burrows, skating very well in warm-up and during the match, hemmed the Predators in along the right half boards.  He cycled to Daniel, who put it on on Henrik’s stick from behind the net.  His forehand shot beat Ellis glove side, to extend the lead to 4-0.

As mentioned, Hornqvist spoiled Luongo’s shutout bid at 14:36 of the third.  He made a nifty forehand to backhand move that he roofed over Roberto’s right shoulder.  But that was all Nashville could muster, with Vancouver improving to 5-2 on their 8 game home stretch.  The Canucks’ next test is Saturday with the Edmonton Oilers (15-17-4, now last in Western conference) in town for a Northwest divisional matchup.  Though the Canucks (42 pts) now hold the 8th and final playoff spot, both Dallas and Detroit are 1 point behind with a game in hand.