If Wednesday night was any indication, the difference between the Nashville Predators and the best team in the Western Conference is about one period.
The Predators battled the Vancouver Canucks evenly through the first two periods, then led for a time but eventually fell 2-1 in their final game before the All-Star break. It also was the conclusion of a six-game, 11-day road trip during which they went 3-3-0.
All of the scoring came in the final period, beginning with Shea Weber’s goal 37 seconds into the third period. It was the ninth of the season and just the second in the last 11 games for the Nashville captain.
The resultant 1-0 lead stood for 10:02. That’s when Canucks’ forward Alexandre Burrows tied it on a rebound opportunity. Fewer than two minutes later, Burrows created a turnover in the Nashville end, which led to the game-winner from defenseman Lee Sweatt, who was playing his first career NHL game.
The Predators dominated the opening 20 minutes and outshot Vancouver 12-4. By the start of the third period, the shots were nearly even (20-18 in Nashville’s favor) and by game’s end the Canucks had a decisive advantage (37-27) thanks to a 10-shot advantage over the final 20 minutes.
Nashville reached the break with a 27-17-6 mark. Its 60 points is tied with Anaheim for fourth-most in the conference, but the Ducks (28-20-4) have played two additional games. Vancouver improved to 31-10-9 and tied Philadelphia for the highest point total in the league (71).
The Predators resume the season Tuesday against Calgary (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena).