By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators will be looking to even the Western Conference semi final series against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators lost in overtime on Tuesday when the Canucks scored a power play goal with Shea Weber in the box after being called for hooking halfway through the overtime period.
The Canucks scored two power play goals Tuesday night, but each penalty that lead to the goals were questionable. Both power play markers were scored by American Olympian and 40-goal scorer Ryan Kesler.
Predators forward Joel Ward, who scored the game-tying goal that send Tuesday night’s game into overtime, says the Predators will rebound in game four. “You’ve got no choice,” he said, adding, “It is what it is. There’s another game here in Nashville, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz says that the Predators need to take the momentum away from the Canucks. “I don’t know if [the Tuesday win] will tilt it their way. They’ll grab the momentun and it’s our job to grab it right back. I thought we showed some resolve.”
There will be at least one line up change on Thursday night. Steve Sullivan left the game late in the third period when he was hit by former Predator Dan Hamhuis.
After practice on Wednesday, Trotz told Farhan Lalji of TSN that Colin Wilson was now ready for the series. Lalji says that Wilson is expected to replace Sullivan but that JP Dumont was also expected to make his way back into the lineup.
If Dumont plays, who sits? One possibility would be to juggle positions around in a way that would allow for Dumont to play and Blake Geoffrion to sit. Geoffrion isn’t seeing much ice time having played just shy of 6 minutes on Tuesday night.
Nashville won both games that Dumont played in the first series against the Ducks and screened goalie Ray Emery for Shea Weber’s game-tying goal in the dying seconds of game 5.
Changes to the lineup are not the only changes the Predators will be trying to make. With the Canucks power play coming alive on Tuesday night, scoring two goals on the man advantage, the Predators will be looking to do the same as special teams might be the key to which team advances to the Western Conference finals. Though he sees very little ice time on the power play, there is a new points leader for Nashville this post-season.
Joel Ward scored his fourth goal of the playoffs on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Ward’s four goals and three assists match David Legwand’s 7 points last season and Paul Kariya’s 7 points from 2006 for the most points by a Predator in one post-season. In 9 playoff games this season, Ward has a point in 7 contests.
While Ward and his linemates, Legwand and Martin Erat, are looked to to provide offense, Mike Fisher’s line will also be feeling the pressure to produce. Sergei Kostitsyn has yet to score in the post season, though he has four helpers.
A couple hundred tickets remain for Thursday night’s 7:30 start at Bridgestone Arena. It is another gold out. All fans in attendance will receive a rally flag and a Predators t-shirt.
Photo credit: AP
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