By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville lost another one-goal game as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Predators 2-1 to win the Western Conference semi final series in six games. Every game in the series was decided by a single goal, with the exception of Game 4 when Henrik Sedin scored an empty net tally to give the Canucks a two-goal cushion.
“Before we start,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said as he sat down for his post game press conference, “I just want to congratulate the Vancouver Canucks. I thought they played a great series and obviously the coaching staff did a great job.”
The Predators came out Monday night and dominated the first period of play in shots, outshooting the Canucks 11-7, but at the end of 20 minutes trailed 2-0.
“We played well.” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said about Nashville’s first period. “I think they only had a couple chances in the first period. They executed both of those. Those were playoff goals — lucky bounces and they put it in the back of the net.”
The Canucks scored two quick goals — one goal was the result of a turnover deep in the Predators zone, the other, the result of a power play awarded to the Canucks for what the officials considered embellishment by Jordin Tootoo.
Mayson Raymond picked up his first goal of the post-season at 7:45 into the opening frame when he received the puck from Ryan Kesler, who stole it from Ryan Suter right in front of Rinne.
Just over a minute later, Tootoo was called for unsportsmanlike conduct when Alex Edler held him at the blue line, prohibiting his entrance into the Vancouver zone. While Predators fans complained about the officiating, Coach Trotz declined to comment on the play saying a penalty is a penalty.
It didn’t take long for the Canucks to add to their lead. Daniel Sedin picked up his 6th goal of the playoffs at 9:28 into the first period. Kelser and Henrik Sedin picked up the helpers.
The Predators weren’t without chances of their own. Nashville had two power play opportunities in the first 7 minutes of the game, but couldn’t find the back of the net despite a number of scrambles in front of Roberto Luongo.
Nashville did pull within one in the second period. David Legwand scored on the Predators first shot on goal at 3:31 of the middle frame. Joel Ward and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up assists. It was the first point in the series for Kostitsyn.The goal marked his 6th of the post season.
Nashville had an opportunity to tie the game when Marty Erat had a breakaway with 6:15 left in the second, but he was hit off the puck by Jeff Tambellini before getting a shot off. Fans at Bridgestone Arena booed as no penalty was assessed on the play.
The Predators were unable to find the equlizer in the third period so the Canucks move on to face the winner of the Sharks-Red Wings series and the Predators call it a day.
“Not a lot of people give us credit at the start of the year. A lot of people don’t think we’re going to make the playoffs, let alone get into the second round. We’re still not satisfied. The group in here wants to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s not easy to be going home this early. But I think we grew, and there’s a lot of firsts that happened this year,” Weber said.
A lot of firsts indeed. Nashville won its first overtime game during the post season, its first game five, its first elimination game as well as picking up the franchise’s first series win.
The Canucks now advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1994, the year they lost the Stanley Cup to the New York Rangers in seven games.
“It is one of our goals obviously.” Kesler said about making the Conference finals. “It is good to finally make it to the conference finals, personally and team wise. But that’s not our goal, we have bigger things in mind and we’re not going to be satisfied just making it to the conference finals.”
As for the Predators, while the season of firsts comes to an end, there is a lot to look forward to for Nashville Predators fans.
“They were a group that you can be proud of as a coach,” Trotz said. “They came and worked, they had great team unity, and they found ways to get it done. They didn’t want any excuses of “Guys out” or the what-ifs-what if we’d have had a full roster, with Goc and the Lombardis and the O’Reillys and the Frankie Bouillons — it didn’t matter, we’ll never know that; that’s for another day. The guys that were there were Nashville Predators and they grew a lot.”
Photo credit: AP
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