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Instant Reaction: Canucks cruise past Predators 5-2, with goals from every line in season series sweep

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Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Cody Severtson
2 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Lachlan Irvine is on Stanchies duty, and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — published later this evening.
A surprise healthy scratch saw a major shake-up in Canucks Nation.
I’m, of course, talking about Lachlan Irvine getting AirCanada’d out of Stanchies duty, putting managing editor David Quadrelli on Stanchies duty and myself onto Instant Reaction duty from a secluded closet at my Friendsmas Party.
Oh, and Andrei Kuzmenko was a healthy scratch, too, which I’m sure some people in Canucks Nation noticed.
Joining me to provide you with boots-on-the-ground reactions for this instalment of Instant Reaction are several of my friends, longtime suffering Canucks fans, and my Wife, who is “just hoping everyone has a good time.” For the sake of privacy, we’ll refer to them as Canucks Fan One, Canucks Fan Two, and Canucks Fan Three. I’ve abbreviated these names to CF1, CF2, and CF3 for efficient closet-writing purposes.
To start the game, the Wifey asked our Friendsmas group, “Who are we rooting for? Oh, right!”
A question which set the tone for a confusing start to the game.
First, it was the referees assessing a phantom slashing minor penalty against Nils Höglander, which sent the Canucks 24th penalty kill to work.
Dakota Joshua, whose been a revelation for the team on the penalty kill this season, drew an equally as soft interference minor against Tyson Barrie to give the Canucks a brief power play opportunity.
Despite one of the team’s most dynamic-looking power plays of late, the first period entered a bit of a lull, accented by a crushing hit by Joshua on Philip Tomasino.
The lull brought memories of old amongst the Friendsmas.
“The slow starts remind me a bit of the Travis Green era, without the three goals against,” said CF1.
CF2 mentioned how “it’s still not as bad as the Willie D era.”
“At least through these guys’ slow starts, there’s still a chance for them to score.”
Right on queue, Elias Pettersson was that chance.
With less than four minutes to go in the opening frame, Pettersson unleashed a heater down the right wing under Juuse Saros’ blocker side. The goal left Bridgestone Arena quieter than Rogers Arena on a Tuesday night.
Thirty seconds later, Nils Åman scored his first goal of the season off a forechecking sequence that saw Tyson Barrie and two other Predators’ defencemen foolishly drop below the goal line.
The goal was great news for the Åman-heads but not great for the Kuzmenko-heads in the chat, who had spent pre-game expressing sheer disbelief over Rick Tocchet’s decision to ice a fourth line consisting of the inexperienced Swedish rookie, Phil Di Giuseppe and Sam Lafferty over the Russian near 40-goalscorer.
The Kuz-heads earned some relief past the midway point of the second period when Jeremy Lauzon cut the Canucks’ lead in half after going criss-cross applesauce on Åman off of a zone entry.
The Lauzon goal came after a stretch of play that had the Canucks outshot 10-4 through 14 minutes of play.
The final five minutes of play couldn’t have been more different.
Fifteen seconds after Lauzon’s goal to cut the lead, Nils Höglander scored a deflection goal off a Quinn Hughes point shot to regain the Canucks’ two-goal lead.
CF3 said, “woah, they’re scoring so many goals.”
Wifey asked, “Is that good?”
“Yes. Yes, that is,” CF3 responded, with CF1 adding, “Hoggy’s been unreal for us this year. Tocchet’s going to win the Jack Adams with the play he’s getting out of guys like him and Garland.”
The Canucks patented rope-a-dope method yielded two goals in 46 seconds, a too-many-men penalty drawn against the Predators, and an evening of the shot totals. After starting the first 15 down 10-4 in shots, the Canucks rallied to even things at 11 apiece over five minutes.
To start the third period, the Canucks had a minute to work on the power play. Though they weren’t able to capitalize on the man advantage, Teddy Bleugers continued the Canucks string of bottom-six domination with a goal that chased Juuse Saros from the net and Roman Josi from any potential Norris conversation.
Juuse Saros hasn’t been chased often in his NHL career. To score five on 19 shots and elicit a reaction like this from the perennial Vezina candidate was telling. The Canucks were simply too much for the Predators to handle.
This club’s a wagon. Especially when Conference opponents like the Predators have their veteran defenders lay an egg, and their forwards did not play strong enough on 50/50 puck battles or capitalize on the chances they did generate. The Preds generated an absurd volume of rush chances, but Casey DeSmith was a wall for Vancouver, keeping them in the game while they struggled to get their legs under them.
The Predators tried to press late, aided by a Vancouver too-many-men penalty. But the best chance they could muster was a Gustav Nyquist shot off the post.
It was a suffocating and frustrating final half of the third period for Nashville. Though they peppered DeSmith with volume, the Canucks limited the Preds’ chances to very low-danger shots from the perimeter.
When the Preds weren’t pressing, the Canucks’ third line was creating scoring chances at will, thanks to Conor Garland.
Garland, who has been a focus of the Stanchies due to his excellent two-way play at 5-on-5 this season, had a less-than-remarkable showing by the numbers. The Canucks were out-attempted 17 to 9 with Garland on the ice. However, they traded even in shots, scoring chances, and high-danger chances while outscoring their opposition 1-zip with him on the ice at 5-on-5. It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Canucks’ won the season series thanks in part to the contributions of its bottom six.
Sure, the Predators scored a goal in garbage time, but this game was all Vancouver after being very all-not-Vancouver at the start.
Elsewhere in the NHL, the Oilers lost to the Islanders, and the Hurricanes beat the Golden Knights, giving the Canucks a roadmap to one point behind Vegas for the lead in the Pacific with as many games played.
Reacting to the 5-2 series-sweeping win, CF1 reacted with a ‘WOOOO’ loud enough to make Al Murdoch proud. Adding later, “Good game. Crushed them after the slow start!”
CF3, who left after the second period to drive home, turned off the game when her stream froze.
Canucks Fan Four (CF4), who spent the first two periods drooling on themselves while entranced by the puck movement, fell asleep during the third period. Nonetheless, they and CF2 (mom) were ecstatic to see the Canucks pick up another COLOSSAL win (pictured below).
The Wife jokingly remarked that the team “could’ve played better.”
This sentiment, joking or not, was only felt by Rick Tocchet, who was reserved in his criticism of the team following the win.
Nevertheless, the Canucks head to Dallas for another 5 PM start.
Until then, what was your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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