Nashville Predators Hold on for Gritty Win, Even Series with Vancouver Canucks at 1

Apr 23, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN;  Nashville Predators forward Luke Evangelista (77)
Apr 23, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Nashville Predators forward Luke Evangelista (77) / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators came into Tuesday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks looking to rebound from a devastating loss two nights prior. They effectively squandered a chance to win Game 1 of the playoffs in a twelve-second sequence, and had a lot to play for to not only keep the series in check, but prove that they could stick to their identity and bounce back from adversity.

It was far from pretty or optimal, but the Predators found a way to get it done and win Game 2 in Vancouver by a score of 4-1. Although they got the result they wanted, we would be lying if we said that they did it in a way that is sustainable for the rest of the series, let alone the rest of the playoffs.

The Predators still struggled to establish a consistent offense and got swarmed for much of the third period, it was very fortunate that the Canucks did not get a goal in the final 20 minutes. But as is the case, especially in the playoffs, a win is a win, and the Predators achieved their goal of splitting the first two games of the series and bringing it back to Nashville at one game apiece.

Key 95-second Sequence Makes Big Difference for Nashville Predators in Victory

As was the case in Game 1, shots came at a premium for both sides in Game 2. The Predators only got 16 shots which is about right for the amount of overall offense they had, and the Canucks could only muster 18 for as much zone time and possession as they had.

But in situations like these, it is all about whether or not you can take advantage of your opportunities, and the Predators did so in a big way right about midway through the game, and it ended up being a huge part of what decided the result in this one.

Filip Forsberg, who caught much flack for doing very little in Game 1, got possession not long after the Predators won a faceoff and roofed the puck right over Casey DeSmith. That gave them a 2-0 lead, and 95 seconds later, Jason Zukcer came up with a steal in the neutral zone, found Anthony Beauvillier who got a shot on goal, and his rebound was put in by Colton Sissons to give the Predators a 3-0 lead.

That portion of the game was by far the best offense they had in the entire game, and as it turned out, they did not need much else to secure the win. Even for as much pressure as the Canucks got later in the game, with how hard it was for them to put shots on goal, it was going to be even harder for them to overcome a three-goal deficit, and of course they could not.

Again, you are not going to consistently win in the playoffs when your best offense is just a few short minutes of action, but you are certainly helping yourself when you convert the opportunities you get, and the Predators did that in Game 2.

Nashville Predators Play Tough Hockey to Keep Pucks out of Their Own Net

Let's get one thing right when talking about this game, Juuse Saros was sensational. He made several big flashy saves to preserve the lead, and by stopping 17 out of 18 shots, he absolutely rebounded from a not so great Game 1 to prove that he is still elite.

But let's give credit to the guys on the ice for working tirelessly to defend their net, especially the penalty kill. Coming into the series, a huge question for the Predators was whether or not they could contain the Canucks powerplay, but they have passed that test with flying colors so far.

They killed both penalties they took in Game 1 and killed four of them in Game 2, three of which were in the first period. And it is not like they have been escaping by the skin of their teeth either, they have hounded pucks down and managed to clear the zone several times, being near perfect in an extremely demanding area of the game.

But they have been just as admirable at even strengh, and in this game, got a result that backed up just how gritty and determined they were to preserve the win. The Predators made a major effort to block shots all over, and the numbers showed that this was one of their very best showings in that regard.

Of course, that is not how you want to win games, but the playoffs are a grind that requires sacrifice and when you do that well to block shots, you are doing good things. It was really ugly, but the Predators laid it all on the line to preserve the victory, and hopefully can make the necessary improvements to their game as the series shifts to Nashville.