Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Canucks Edge Preds Tuesday

In a game which featured four major penalties, a rare seven-minute power play, and a combined 13 man advantages, the Canucks were able to head back to Vancouver with a hard-earned two points by pulling out a 3-1 win over the Predators in Nashville. This was a game that Predators spark plug Jordin Tootoo would have loved to be a part of, but he didn't dress due to a lower body injury.

Pavol Demitra opened the scoring for the Canucks in the first period to break out of a long scoring slump. After receiving a great pass from Kyle Wellwood across the slot, Demitra whistled home a shot past netminder Dan Ellis. It was his first goal in eight games and it was also his 8th of the season at 8:35.

Shortly after the Canucks got into the lead, they found themselves in penalty trouble and allowed the Preds to go to work on a 5-on-3 power play. J.P. Dumont and Martin Erat were able to work the puck down low in the zone before finding Radek Bonk alone in front. He made no mistake sliding a shot underneath Curtis Sanford. Bonk, who hadn't scored in 22 games, scored just his 2nd of the year at 11:03.

With five minutes to go in the period, Rob Davison threw a huge hit on Nashville forward Scott Nichol in front of the Vancouver bench. That drew a crowd with plenty of rough stuff, including a fight between Jason Jaffray and Rich Peverley. Nichol did not return to the game with what was determined to be an upper-body injury.

Early in the 2nd period, the Predators nearly took the lead as Jason Arnott was able to get a shot off from the slot. His attempt had Sanford beat, but it rang off the post and the game stayed tied 1-1.

A few shifts later, Alex Burrows nailed Dumont in the neutral zone flattening the Nashville leading scorer. With no penalty being called on the play, Arnott raced over to the Canucks forward and mauled him to the ice and started firing punches. After a minor dust-up between the two teams, Arnott was assessed an instigator minor, a fighting major, and a ten minute misconduct. That put the Canucks on a rare uninterupted seven-minute man advantage. However the team was unable to beat Ellis with any of their chances and the game remained tied.

Before the period was out, Ryan Kesler was assessed a major penalty for boarding as he ran Shea Weber from behind into the corner boards. Luckily for Weber, he wasn't injured and in fact was okay enough to fire a couple of punches on his opponent. He picked up a double minor for his actions and the two teams finished off the frame skating 4-on-4.

At the final buzzer of the middle frame, Antti Pihlstrom was assessed a tripping penalty which allowed the Canucks to start the 3rd period on a 4-on-3 man advantage. It didn't take long for the visitors to convert on the power play. Kevin Bieksa's point shot would be stopped in front but Daniel Sedin was able to shovel the rebound over to Alexander Edler who converted on a wrist shot. Edler had gone 23 games without a goal, but his 2nd of the year proved to be the game winner just 24 seconds into the period. That goal also extended Sedin's and Bieksa's consectutive point scoring streaks to five straight games.

With the Predators pressing down the stretch to tie the game up, Sanford was called upon to make some key saves. His best stops came when he robbed Ryan Suter with a huge left pad save beside the post and a big glove-handed grab off a shot by Erat from the right face off circle.

Eventually Nashville got Ellis to the bench for the extra attacker, but the Canucks were able to seal the deal as Burrows found the empty net. Kesler picked up the lone helper on the 8th of the year for Burrows at 19:17.

Vancouver out-shot Nashville 28-21 on a night which saw the Canucks go 1-for-6 on the power play while the Predators went 1-for-7.

The Canucks, who dating back to last season, have won five straight meetings with the Predators. With the win, they improve their overall record to 16-10-3 and for the moment regain top spot in the Northwest Division.

The club will practice Wednesday in Vancouver before having a well-deserved day off on Thursday. They'll be back in action on Saturday night in Edmonton when they take on the Oilers.

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