By Amanda DiPaolo
The Predators edged the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 to even their Western Conference Semi-Finals series at 1-1. Matt Halischuk scored on the rush with 5:09 left in double overtime for the win in Nashville’s longest game in franchise history. Halischuk beat Luongo high, glove side. Nick Spaling picked up the assist. Saturday night’s game was also the longest playoff game this season.
In a complete turnaround from game one, the Predators out shot, out hit, and out blocked the Canucks and won a majority of the faceoffs, but still could not beat Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo until there was just over a minute to play in regulation.
In fact, the Predators went 118:57 before registering their first goal in the series. Ryan Suter shot the puck at Luongo from the side and to the behind the net. Luongo knocked the puck in the net off his own skate. The goal was Suter’s first of the playoffs. Martin Erat and Joel Ward picked up the assists.
Suter’s goal tied the game at 1-1 and sent the contest into overtime.
The only other goal scored in regulation came at the 2:00 mark of the second period. While shorthanded, Alex Burrows caused a turnover in the neutral zone, gained possession of the puck and beat Rinne.
Burrows took the puck from Sergei Kostitsyn. Burrows and Ryan Kesler passed the puck back and forth. Burrows took the shot, but the puck hit Weber and went right back to Burrows who did not miss on his second opportunity to beat Rinne.
Christian Ehrhoff was in the penalty box for hooking Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien.
Rinne again showed why he is nominated for the Vezina Trophy, making 18 saves in overtime, some remarkable while others seemed improbable.
Towards the end of the first overtime, Kevin Bieska had at a wide open net but Rinne dove across in order to get a piece of the puck with his equipment.
Both Sedins had incredible chances to end the game in overtime taken away by Rinne, who earned himself the number one star of the game for the second straight contest.
The series now moves to Nashville for games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday night. There are tickets remaining, but are extremely limited for Tuesday night’s 8 pm start.
Additional Game Notes:
Henrik Sedin played over 30 minutes but registered only one shot on goal.
Martin Erat continues to prove he is one tough customer. Erat took a puck shot from Shea Weber to the head, but returned to finish the hockey game.
It was the second game in a row that Shane O’Brien stayed out of the penalty box. In fact, Nashville was called for only one penalty all night, a tripping call on Jordin Tootoo. Vancouver was called for two penalties in overtime, too many men on the ice and delay of game.
Only two skaters for Nashville ended the game without a shot on goal, Shane O’Brien and Steve Sullivan
In 30:35 of ice time, Henrik Sedin only had one shot on goal.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter played just over 42 minutes.
Nashville won 57% of the faceoffs, compared to less than 40% in game one.
Photo Credit: AP
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