By Amanda DiPaolo
It took 94:51 and double overtime to do it, but the Nashville Predators evened their Western Conference Semi Finals series against the Vancouver Canucks at 1-1. Matt Halischuk scored with 5:09 left in the second overtime.
Halischuk doesn’t take credit for the goal and highlights the play of his linemates. “It was a great play by Spals [Nick Spaling] to get me the puck. Smitty [Jerred Smithson] did a great job of winning the draw and driving to the net. I was able to get a quick shot off and I was lucky it went in,” he said.
“It’s definitely a big boost to split with Vancouver,” Halischuk added.
The Predators acquired Halischuk from New Jersey when Nashville traded Jason Arnott during the off season last summer. Nashville also received the Devils second round pick for the 2011 Entry Draft.
Halischuk spent most of the season in Milwaukee and was first called up for Nashville’s January 16th game against Chicago. Halischuk was sent to Milwaukee after the February 9th game against Colorado and was called back up in time for the February 26th contest against the Dallas Stars. During his 27 regular season games, Halischuk picked up 4 goals and 8 assists.
In eight playoff games, Halischuk has 2 goals, including Sunday night’s overtime game winner.
Despite originally being a call-up from Milwaukee, Halischuk has played in every post-season game for Nashville. Veteran JP Dumont only played the two games that Martin Erat was unable to play. Colin Wilson, a healthy scratch in the Predators’ 8 playoff games, played all 82 regular season games.
“Every game is a tryout for me,” Halischuk, who wants to be a full time NHL player said about his opportunity in Nashville. “ I’m just taking it game by game. I’m just trying to contribute and learn and work hard.” Halischuk is a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
While Halischuk said he was lucky the shot beat Luongo, Sunday night’s game wasn’t the first time Halischuk had been an overtime hero. Back in 2008, the Toronto, Ontario native scored at 3:36 into overtime to give Canada the 3-2 win over Sweden at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
The Predators arrived home from Canada on Sunday afternoon. Game 3 is at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night. Game time is 8 pm. Very limited tickets are available for both games 3 and 4.
Photo Credit: AP
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