By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators ended their road trip Wednesday night with a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Predators close out the month with nine wins and four losses.
Shane O’Brien and Alex Burrows get reaquainted(AP)
Wednesday night’s game was the return of Shane O’Brien to Vancouver where he played before being traded to Nashville. It also marked the first time that Dan Hamhuis has played against the Predators.
The first penalty of the game was called on Nashville’s captain, Shea Weber, who was sent to the box 4:16 into the contest for cross checking Henrik Sedin.
Vancouver recorded two shots on goal during the power play, both by Jeff Tambellini. Rinne stopped both shots, one being an impressive glove save by the Predators netminder.
At 8:13 into the first period, Nashville got their first shot on the man advantage. Kevin Bieksa tripped David Legwand in the Canucks end, but Nashville couldn’t set anything up in Vancouver territory. The four Canucks on the ice lined up at the blue line making it very difficult for Nashville to skate into the offensive zone cleanly. Weber got the only shot on goal during the power play.
Less than a minute later, Nashville had another power play opportunity but it only lasted for 45 seconds before the Predators were called for a penalty of their own.
Alex Burrows was sent to the box for hooking Patric Hornqvist, while Joel Ward was called for goaltender interference, though it appeared Ward was pushed into Roberto Luongo by Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard.
After the whistle, the television replay showed that Ballard had taken his stick and jabbed Ward in the face with it as he lay in the net. No call on the play was made.
Nashville would return to the man advantage, however, when Henrik Sedin was called for tripping Colin Wilson with 3:47 left in the period. Again, Nashville could not set anything up, though they did generate one decent scoring chance. Hornqvist shot the puck in the slot to Wilson but he couldn’t get the tip-in past Luongo.
The second period began where the first ended, with plenty of penalties getting called. Chris Mueller drew a high sticking call on Christian Ehrhoff at 3:02 of second period. Hornqvist and Marcel Goc took a couple whacks right front of Luongo, but to no avail.
After the whistler, former Nashville Predator Dan Hamhuis pushed Hornqvist down from behind. Hornqvist fell on Luongo. Ryan Kesler dragged Hornqvist by the jersey out of the crease.
With the second period half over, Vancouver went to the power play again when Ryan Suter was sent to the box for holding Henrik Sedin.
The Predators had the best scoring opportunity on the Canucks power play when Hamhuis lost the puck at the blue line to his former teammate, David Legwand. But Luongo won the one-on-one battle and the game remained scoreless.
After the shorthanded opportunity by Nashville, the Canucks turned up the heat peppering the Predators net with shots on goal. Rinne seemed to be unbeatable.
Nashville had their fifth and final power play opportunity when Hornqvist took a stick to the face from Aaron Volpatti. The Predators had an opportunity to slow down the Canucks offense with less than five minutes left in the middle frame.
Though the power play looked good, the Predators were unable to register a shot on goal, despite maintaining the puck in the Canucks end.
With less than three minutes to play in the second period, Rinne made two saves on Mikael Samuelsson, one on a wrap-around attempt and the other in front of the net.
It was the Predators who would score first. Not a minute into the third period and Shea Weber got the Predators on the scoreboard, with a snap shot over the shoulder of Ballard who was standing in the net with Luongo out of position. It was Weber’s ninth goal of the season. Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up assists.
The Canucks scored two quick goals to take the lead, and eventually the win.
The Canucks tied the game at 10:39 into the third. Alex Burrows tipped in a shot from Hamhuis at the point. Burrows was standing between Weber and Jerred Smithson but was not pushed out of position, resulting in his ability to slap the puck home.
Dan Hamhuis now has a goal and three assists in last five games.
Vancouver took the lead just under two minutes later when Lee Sweatt, playing his first NHL game, scored on a Joel Ward turnover.
In the final minute of play, Ward nearly tied for the game for Nashville, but Luongo’s toe save assured the Canucks the win, as well as 71 points on the season.
There was only one penalty called in the third period. Rinne was called for tripping at 3:03 of the final frame. The minor infraction was served by Kostitsyn. Rinne leads the league in penalty minutes by a goaltender with 10 on the season. Marc Andre-Fleury is second with 8 penalty minutes.
Nashville falls to 18-3-4 when scoring the first goal of the game.
Rinne moves to 17-13-4 on the season. Luongo is now 23-8-7 and has not lost a game in regulation in 17 games.
The Predators outshot the Canucks 12-4 in the first period, but were heavily outshot in the third period, with the final count being 35-27 Canucks.
The Predators finish their 6-game road trip with three wins and three losses. Because of the All-Star break, no NHL games are scheduled to be played until February 1st. Nashville hosts Calgary next Tueday at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available.
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