NASHVILLE, Tenn. This is what Anders Nilsson needed Thursday:
– The rarely-used Vancouver Canucks goalkeeper had to get a sharp start against the vindictive Nashville Predators, who was well-prepared to make up for being outdid last week at the Rogers Arena. They gave the ball-throwing goals – and a penalty kick by Elias Pettersson – in a 5-2 draw.
– The rarely-backed backup also needed some backing in its quest for its first win in nearly two months after beating Pittsburgh's 3-2 win on Oct. 16. In a three-win streak that began in Tampa Bay and continued in Florida, he made 33, 24 and 26 saves and the Canucks scored 10 goals.
Nilsson got enough of what he needed against the Predators.
He took six straight setbacks in which the Canucks scored but seven goals in an environment of high Bridgestone Arena where the Predators had only lost five of the 17 games. He was unable to make crucial early saves, and the Canucks failed to generate enough scoring chances in 12 shots over 40 minutes and 21 in regular time.
That's what we learned when Bo Horvat tied for a rebound with 43 seconds left for the overtime, before Colton Sissons struck 3 minutes into the extra session as the Canucks lost 4-3.
Nilsson down but not totally out
Two goals in less than a minute in the first period not only put the Canucks in a hole, they put Nilsson on his heels because he fell to his knees in the efforts of Ryan Hartman and Nick Bonino.
In the first goal, Horvat failed to tie the puck and the Predators went for the quick transition, with Dan Hamhuis hitting Hartman. He used Ben Hutton as a canvas and put a twist between his legs and passed the sleeve of a sloping Nilsson. Bonino's effort was another shot at the wrist that beat Nilsson to the glove on the far side.
To his credit, Nilsson reunited his game when the game could have gotten out of control quickly. And he stayed there the rest of the way.
With Alex Biega catching ice, the Predators had a 3-on-1 pause and this time Nilsson got a glove on a hot Hartman's shot and then stopped a Craig Smith timekeeper in the slot.
However, it was another goal from the side of goal that made the 3-1 and practically pushed the game away. It was hard to totally blame Nilsson because Calle Jarnkrok had just enough of his blade in a Kyle Turris shot and floated over the shoulder of the side of the cork sleeve.
Fall of power, then Boeser attacks
The numbers were bad on Thursday – a 1-1 18-advantage funk in all seven previous games – and there was nothing to suggest that something is about to change with the power game.
In his first advantage, Nikolay Goldobin got two shots but lost the net and then Pekka Rinne stumbled Horvat to create a 5-on-3 for 47 seconds. Nothing came of it. Antoine Roussel then took an unnecessary cut penalty and in the second period with a chance to tie, both units did not get a single shot. Four power games and no shots.
And just when it looked like a bagel night, Brock Boeser discharged a third-quarter bomb at 15.55 to provide end-of-game drama.
Dekey Beags on the first goal?
Who had Jay Beagle on the bench? Who had the fourth-center line looking like a front-row pivot when he scored in a 2-to-1 short-match with Markus Granlund? He took a cross-ice feed and Rinne unbalanced by an indirect effort to his first goal in 10 games after returning from a fractured forearm.
After an encouraging start where the Canucks had two chances – Josh Leivo with an open net with Rinne sprawling and Brock Boeser with a run of strangers patting Pettersson's back – it was hard to find something that looked like a real late chance in the third period.
Boeser hesitated with a chance inside the ball and tried to make a play instead of shooting with a clear lane. And then he shook the ice of Horvat that landed in his sweet spot, but he could not get away.
Travis Green did not wait as much as Columbus on Tuesday to mix his lines. In the second period, he placed Beagle between Leivo and Jake Virtanen, had Horvat between Goldobin and Boeser and Pettersson between Roussel and Virtanen. Boeser would end up with just two shots.
What's going on with Gudbranson?
Erik Gudbranson was a final risk with an upper body injury and lost four of the last eight games.
He was replaced by Biega, who joined Derrick Pouliot while Ben Hutton lined up with Troy Stecher.
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