A MARATHON VICTORY FOR THE PREDATORS
The Nashville Predators evened their series against the No. 1 seeded Vancouver Canucks with a dramatic overtime victory reminiscent of Game Five of the WCQ against Anaheim. Once again, the Predators were able to knot things up on a goal by a defenseman in the waning minutes of the third period with Ryan Suter scoring his first of the playoffs. With the initial 20 minutes of overtime solving nothing, the Predators played the second double-overtime game in franchise history – the previous result was a 5-4 loss against San Jose in 2007. Saturday’s contest would eventually stretch to 94 minutes and 51 seconds, ending as the longest game in Predators history. Rookie Matt Halischuk provided the heroics for Nashville and the Predators have now won their last two overtime matchups after going without a win in their first three attempts.
GOALTENDERS SHINE AGAIN Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo both continued their strong play, with each now having allowed only two goals over the course of the series’ two games. For the second game in a row, Rinne was named the First Star of the Game by Hockey Night in Canada. The Nashville netminder’s save percentage now stands at .958 in the series, while his Vancouver counterpart is at .970. Luongo’s 44 saves in Game Two were the most ever by an opposition goaltender in Predators playoff history, breaking a mark set by Evgeni Nabokov in 2007.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
After 984 regular season games and 34 postseason contests, the Nashville Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 2011. Only three players remain from the team’s first postseason appearance in 2004 (David Legwand, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo)… Legwand, Erat and Shea Weber are tied for first in franchise playoff scoring (17 pts), while Joel Ward has moved up to fifth place (10 pts) by virtue of scoring six points (3g-3a) in his last seven games. Ward had a five-game point streak (3g-2a) snapped in Game One of the WCS. The streak was the longest in Predators postseason history… Legwand led the team in scoring in last year’s postseason, picking up seven points (2g-5a) in six games, tying Paul Kariya for highest single-series output in franchise history… Mike Fisher leads all Predators in playoff experience with 83 games – prior to 2011, all were with the Ottawa Senators… Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk and Anders Lindback all made their NHL playoff debuts in the WCQ… Rinne has more than doubled up Tomas Vokoun in franchise playoff victories, moving into first in the category with seven wins… Cody Franson notched four assists against the Ducks, setting a series franchise record for defensemen; Ryan Suter had three, to tie the previous mark… Nashville and Vancouver had never faced each other in the NHL playoffs prior to 2011… Nashville has not lost consecutive games in the 2011 Playoffs.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS GAME TWO
April 30, 2011: Nashville Predators 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (2 OT) at Rogers Arena
At more than 94 minutes, the game was the longest in Predators postseason history, surpassing a double-overtime loss to San Jose in the 2007 WCQ… Before Suter’s goal at 18:53 of the third period, the Predators’ scoreless streak had extended to 119:03 – the longest in franchise playoff history… Nashville’s 46 shots and the 79 shots by both teams combined were each franchise highs for a playoff game. The 13 shot-advantage held by the Predators also set a new mark for a road game… Neither team has scored a power-play goal in the series, with Vancouver at 0-for-6 and Nashville at 0-for-9… Nashville held the advantage in shots (46-33), hits (41-34), blocked shots (23-19) and face-off wins (57-43). Shane O’Brien and Steve Sullivan were the only Predators not to record a shot. Kevin Klein recorded a game-high five blocked shots. David Legwand was 18-of-23 (78 percent) in the face-off circle… Suter and Shea Weber each played greater than 42 minutes, while Legwand was the only other skater on the Nashville roster to eclipse the 29-minute mark (32:52).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES WRAP-UP
Defenseman Shane O’Brien was acquired along with forward Dan Gendur from Vancouver on Oct. 5 in exchange for Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson… The teams played all four of their games in the 2011 portion of the schedule, splitting the season series at two games apiece and alternating wins. The Predators are 18-25-6 against the Canucks all time, but 5-5-0 in the last 10 meetings… Nashville outscored Vancouver 8-6 in the four games. Special teams goals were hard to come by, with Nashville going 0-for-14 on the power-play, and Vancouver, the League’s top-ranked power-play (24.3 percent in the regular season), scoring only once against the Predators penalty kill… Martin Erat led Nashville skaters with four points (1g-3a)… Pekka Rinne was 2-2-0 against the Canucks this season with a 1.26 goals-against average, .962 save percentage and a 29-save shutout… Nick Spaling and Blake Geoffrion scored the game-winners in the Preds’ victories. For Geoffrion, it was his first career game-winning goal… Ryan Suter played at least 26 minutes in three of the four games… The Canucks’ win on March 29 snapped a five-game winning streak for Nashville and was one of only two regulation losses in the Predators’ final 12 games of the regular season.
NOTABLES AGAINST VANCOUVER Steve Sullivan (15g-15a-30pts in 37 gp) and Martin Erat (8g-16a-24pts in 32 gp) lead the Predators in production against the Canucks in their careers… Pekka Rinne has an all-time record of 4-4-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a shutout against Vancouver. Anders Lindback has never faced the Canucks… Shane O’Brien played two seasons with the Canucks, picking up 18 points (2g-16a) and a +21 rating in 141 games. He also had five points (2g-3a) in 22 playoff games for Vancouver… Jerred Smithson is a native of Vernon, B.C., while Shea Weber and Cody Franson both call Sicamous, B.C., home. Franson and Jonathon Blum both played their junior careers with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), capturing the Memorial Cup in 2007. Blum finished his career as the Giants’ all-time leader in points by a defenseman… Shea Weber (Canada), Ryan Suter (United States), Patric Hornqvist (Sweden), Marcel Goc (Germany), Martin Erat (Czech Republic), and Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus) all participated in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS WRAP-UP
(5) Nashville Predators def. (4) Anaheim Ducks, 4-2
The series was the first postseason matchup between Nashville and Anaheim… Nashville achieved a number of notable franchise firsts, including the team’s first overtime victory and first series victory… Eighteen of the Predators’ 19 skaters earned at least one point, with 16 earning at least two points. Defensemen factored into 14 of Nashville’s 22 goals… Fisher led the team with six points (3g-3a), one shy of the franchise high for points in a single series. Weber’s three goals and five points were the most by a defenseman in Predators postseason history… A goal was scored in every period of the series… The Nashville power play went 6-of-27 (22 percent), scoring in five of the six games.