Predators push and shove, but can't snap losing streak

Monday, April 15, 2013 at 11:41pm

The Nashville Predators had plenty of reasons to be in a bad mood.

They had lost six straight and had been held scoreless in three of their previous five. Injuries continued to take their top players from the lineup. Oh, and they any chance that they might make the playoffs was miniscule, at best.

So what was the Vancouver Canucks’ excuse?

Whatever the cause, the teams hooked up for a spirited affair Monday before 16,518 at Bridgestone Arena. They combined for 60 penalty minutes, which included coincidental fighting majors, three 10-minute misconducts and an unsportsmanlike penalty call against — of all people — Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

The Canucks got the better of things on the scoreboard and won 5-2, their fifth victory in six outings. In so doing, they officially eliminated Nashville from playoff contention.

“I don’t think anyone’s happy with what’s gone on this year,” defenseman Hal Gill said. “I guess it’s something to look back on when we’re done with the season. ... Right now, it’s just a tough pill to swallow. You want to go out and give everything you’ve got and to play for nothing is tough.”

Vancouver got two goals from center Ryan Kesler, who now has six points (three goals, three assists) in four games back from an injury that sidelined him for more than a month, and strengthened its hold on the Northwest Division lead.

The Predators, though, saved face. Down another veteran with defenseman Kevin Klein sidelined for the first time this season, they battled back from an early two-goal deficit and refused to accept the manner in which Vancouver, led by Alexandre Burrows, attempted to intimidate and frustrate them.

“We found a way to fight back,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… I give a lot of props to our leadership — Pekka, [Shea Weber] fighting to the end, Hal Gill. Guys just stayed together. You have to love that. There’s a group of kids that are working hard and some veteran kids that are showing them the way.

“There’s a lot of fight in the dog, if you will.”

Not surprisingly, things turned on a roughing call. Gill was sent to the box at 16:56 of the second period, just more than five minutes after Bobby Butler tied it 2-2.

It took six seconds for the Canucks to score what turned out to be the game-winner.

The odd part was Gill, the giant defenseman whose 16:59 of ice time was his most since the season-opener, was called for a post-whistle shove of Burrows that was decidedly tame in comparison to many other things that took place during the contest.

“To be honest with you, I thought … I just kind of pushed him,” Gill said. “He was in front of the net. The puck went there and I pushed him down. I’m not too happy with that call.

“I don’t mind him slashing me and hacking me and spearing me. I can handle that as long as I’m able to push back. To make a one-sided call like that, I wasn’t too happy.”

The outcome was no longer in doubt with just over three minutes to play when Vancouver forward Zack Kassian took exception to a shove in the back from Rinne and attempted to do something about it. Weber and Roman Josi jumped to their goalie’s defense and before long every skater on the ice was locked up with someone in some way.

Weber ultimately was assessed two minutes for roughing and a misconduct. Kassian and Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts each got misconducts of their own in addition to roughing calls. Kassian earned an extra two minutes for his cross check on Rinne.

Nashville finished with 27 penalty minutes, its second-highest total of the season.

“Obviously, [Rinne] took exception,” Weber said. “I think maybe they were bumping into him a little more than usual and he was frustrated. It obviously showed at the end.”

• Briefly: Defenseman Mattias Ekholm was recalled from Milwaukee because of Klein’s injury. He played 16:05 and was on the ice for one goal against. … Paul Gaustad (shoulder), Colin Wilson (shoulder) and Gabriel Bourque (knee) all underwent surgery Monday at Vanderbilt Hospital. Things went as expected, which means Gaustad and Wilson will be out roughly four months, Bourque will need two-four weeks of rehabilitation.

6 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 4/16/13 at 4:26

The Ice hockey team has 16,000 fans an ice rink that doubles as an entertainment and basketball arena.

Davidson county provides this and more for the residents of all adjacent county residents with the highest property taxes of any county in the state.

By: karatero on 4/16/13 at 7:20

Rasputin72:

Yes and the citizens of DAVIDSON County solely get the benefit of every single tax dollar created by attending the games, buying merchandise and patronizing the business in and near the arena. What exactly is your point? The property taxes do not pay for the arena. It pays for the other services you utilize. The arena pays for itself.....

By: Jughead on 4/16/13 at 10:33

YAWN!!!! Preds are dead like the rest of the NHL.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/16/13 at 12:21

Katero..........You make less than $50,000 dollars a year and belived in Santa Claus until you were ten years old.

By: ancienthighway on 4/16/13 at 1:42

Hear ye! Hear ye! King Rasputin has spoken. Let no mortal being question the word and deed of the King!

Basketball would have even less of a following than hockey. Nashville is one of the worst music venues for big draw shows, simply because of the number of musicians here that are either working themselves or need a break from the craft.

An empty arena cost the city more than an occupied arena, and by occupied I mean a long term tenant as the Preds are. An empty arena draws no one downtown.

By: 4gold on 4/17/13 at 8:59

The difference in skill level of the Vancouver puck handling and the Preds was embarrassing to watch. They were playing with the Preds. Could have scored anytime they wanted to . Just calmly picked them apart. An easy two goal lead took two minutes. They sat back, got bored and let the Preds get a couple lucky goals. and it took the Cannucks about two more minutes to go ahead by two again. The Preds are light years away from ever challenging for a cup again if ever.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!