May 1, 2011, 1:54 AM EDT
What started out as a defensive battle for the first 58 minutes of the game turned into a double overtime thriller in Vancouver as the Predators beat the Canucks 2-1 to tie the best of seven second round series at 1-1 thanks to Matt Halischuk‘s snipe with 5:09 remaining in double overtime
We knew from the get-go that these two teams would be playing some defensively tough games and that it would be more of a battle of strategy than anything else. Turns out all we needed to have the game take a turn for the exciting was to head to multiple overtimes.
Nashville had a golden opportunity to break the game open and grab the lead in the second period when they headed to the power play. Only problem there is that the Predators power play has gone quiet and the Canucks know how to counter shorthanded. Alex Burrows helped make the Preds pay for their ineffectiveness to help the Canucks jump out to a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal.
From that point on, the Canucks took the foot off the gas pedal and tried to defend their way to victory. That strategy wouldn’t end up in their best interests.
Both Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne were stellar all game long with Luongo making 44 saves and Rinne making highlight reel stops all game long on the way to making 32 stops. During regulation, it was Luongo who dazzled with his stops to keep the Predators off the board early on.
Ultimately it would be a weak goal under Luongo’s leg pad from Ryan Suter that would tie the game 1-1 with 1:07 to play in the third period. The Canucks would threaten once more late in the third with efforts to scare Rinne but could not break through.
The game headed off to overtime where the teams mutual hesitancy to press the offensive part of the game evaporated and the teams traded chances back and forth. There it was Rinne who stole the show pulling stunning save after stunning save to keep the Canucks turned away through both overtime and double overtime.
In double overtime, the game would turn thanks to a quick break in from the blue line that saw Nick Spaling hit Matt Halischuk with a pass and Halischuk would wire his shot over Luongo’s glove hand and into the net to end it.
For Nashville, the win is obviously huge as the tie the series up and get their offense on the board, finally. The work their defense did in keeping the Canucks quiet paired with Rinne’s unbelievable work. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the offensive side of things, but tonight they shined on defense and aside from a horrible power play mistake, they were flawless.
Vancouver, meanwhile, has to get that killer instinct back. Getting up 1-0 and then sitting back on the lead, even against a poor offensive team like Nashville, is a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen it happen to Vancouver before and we’ve seen it everywhere else throughout the playoffs. Safe might not be death, but it’s inviting the grim reaper into the rink to take a look around. If Vancouver can’t get their offense going, and that means their big guns of the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, every game is going to be close like this one. Playing with fire like that is no good for a team with designs on the Stanley Cup.
After the game, Matt Halischuk talks about his game-winning goal.
Here are the highlights from the double overtime epic between these two.
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