The Nashville Predators started out their Western Canada road trip in style Wednesday night, getting some retribution against a weakened Vancouver team.
The Nashville Predators made themselves at home on Wednesday night, which was fitting. Several Predators hail from British Columbia, and their family & friends got quite the show. The Vancouver Canucks would have been better off not showing up this evening. They were missing a couple of top performers, & the rest of the team might as well have been missing.
Ryan Johansen makes his return in his hometown & starts alongside Nick Bonino & Viktor Arvidsson. It only takes 1:33 before P.K. Subban knocks a puck off of a Canuck & past Anders Nilsson into the net. A lucky goal, but it counts the same as the others.
Kyle Turris, another Vancouver area native, goes to the penalty box at 4:15 for a hook. Colton Sissons gets a great short-handed opportunity but it bounces off of Nilsson. Vancouver gets their first shot on goal six minutes into the game. They don’t cash in on the PP, but Pekka Rinne has to make an outstanding save soon after. Turris shoots one just off the post before the first commercial break. A delay of game sends Troy Stetcher into the box at the 7:45 mark. Nashville doesn’t accomplish much on the power play. Craig Smith holds Stetcher at 12:43 to give the Canucks another PP chance. That one goes even worse for Vancouver, as Johansen & Arvidsson go on a breakaway & Viktor gets the short-handed goal at 14:38.
Roman Josi gets an assist along with Johansen. The Predators get a couple more chances in the last few minutes, but it’s the Canucks getting on the board at 19:09 when Thomas Vanek tips one in. Or do they? Peter Laviolette challenges for a potential offsides call. The referees decide that Vanek was offsides & the goal doesn’t stand! The Nashville Predators head into the first intermission up 2-0.
Vancouver gets called for a penalty 56 seconds into the period when Jake Virtanen high-sticks Alexei Emelin. A little questionable, but these things happen. The power play ends, but soon after it’s Subban from center ice with a goal! It was going wide but bounced off of Nilsson into the net at 3:05 into the second. PK takes advantage of some luck & a Canuck line change to put the Nashville Predators up three.
The Canucks come back on the attack & draw a penalty on Matt Irwin. They get their first goal for real at 5:01 when Alexander Burmistrov puts one past Rinne. Brock Boeser & Henrik Sedin get assists, for Sedin it’s the 800th of his storied career. The refs are busy right now, as Markus Granlund high-sticks Turris & goes to the box at 5:55. Filip Forsberg makes Vancouver pay right away, sending Nashville up 4-1 at 6:00. It went off one of Vancouver’s defensemen, continuing their unlucky evening.
Johansen & Smith get assists. Subban breaks his own stick on a shot, which shows how much force he’s playing with tonight. Josi bangs one off the post that nearly puts Nashville up four. The score sits at 4-1 after two periods.
Both sides have good chances early in the period but nothing goes in the net. 8:48 elapses in the period before Craig Smith gets Nashville’s fifth goal of the evening. The top shelf goal comes with assists for Kevin Fiala & Mattias Ekholm.
The pain for Vancouver isn’t over yet, as Fiala gets a goal of his own at the 11:57 mark. Nilsson breaks his stick & tries to send it to the moon, as it’s been a bad night to be in the Vancouver goal.
Calle Jarnkrok makes it seven at 12:23, and at this point you’re hoping that the Canucks don’t take out their frustrations on the fellas. Sure enough, Emelin gets waylaid against the boards by Virtanen at 12:48. Subban & Hartnell are ready to throw down with anybody in a blue jersey in defense of their teammate. All three are given misconduct penalties and are done for the evening. Virtanen got a couple extra for that ridiculous display.
The Predators end up on the power play afterwards. Josi gets sent to the box after a slash & it’s four on four at 13:10. Everybody settles down after this & the last few minutes go by without much of note happening. Emelin returns to action, so that’s some good news. The Nashville Predators start out this road trip looking as good as they have all season.
Steve’s Stars of the Game
Third Star: Filip Forsberg
Forsberg went over the thirty point mark tonight with an assist & a goal that made Anders Nilsson break his stick in frustration. Filip has found a new home on a line with Calle Jarnkrok & Pontus Aberg of late. It’s working well, but I don’t think there are many lines that Forsberg wouldn’t produce on.
Second Star: Craig Smith
Smith tied his goal total from last season tonight with his twelfth, and added two assists. That line with Smith, Turris & Fiala has shown no signs of slowing down. Have we decided on a name yet? I was digging the FiST Line, but somebody on Twitter called it KFC the other day and I’m liking that too.
First Star: P.K. Subban
P.K. got two silly goals & booted out of the game for sticking up for his buddy Alexei Emelin. That’s just about all you can ask for from your star defenseman. It’s always nice when your team has a few star defensemen. Tonight was P.K.’s night, and I expect another defenseman to step up tomorrow night.
The Nashville Predators’ Western Canada road trip continues tonight in Edmonton, Alberta. The NHL’s golden boy Connor McDavid & the Oilers will host Nashville at 9:00 PM ET/8:00 PM CT. You can catch the game on television via Fox Sports Tennessee or on radio via 102.5 The Game.