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Instant Reaction: JT Miller leads the way as Canucks take down Predators 2-1 in game three

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Photo credit:© Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 month ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt is on The Stanchies and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — up tomorrow morning!
Nashville was all over the Canucks early on in this one, and a Dakota Joshua boarding penalty gave the Predators the first power play of the game. The Canucks Joshua-less penalty killers did well to kill off the penalty, but they’d be needed not long after when Tyler Myers was called for high-sticking on Filip Forsberg.
The Canucks killed off that penalty too, meaning Nashville was 9 for 10 on the power play in this series.
The Canucks withstood the pressure, and got a power play of their own that they made no mistake on, as JT Miller opened the scoring on Vancouver’s first shot of the game.
Heading into tonight, the Canucks had gone two games without a goal from JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser. Per Jeff Paterson, there hadn’t been a three-game stretch this season where the Canucks didn’t get a goal from one of those three players. Tonight, that stat remained intact.
Nils Höglander drew a hooking penalty on Ryan McDonagh that gave the Canucks another power play opportunity. While they didn’t score on it, they did get some quality looks and were solid on puck retrievals, another good sign for a power play that’s seen its ups and downs all season long.
With the Canucks up by a goal, the second period got started with a bang, as Tyler Myers swept a puck out of the blue paint that squeaked past Casey DeSmith. Almost immediately after, Nils Höglander found himself with a high-quality chance of his own that Juuse Saros did well to stop.
This was a high-paced contest, and despite the lack of shots on net, it was a very entertaining game three to this point.
Conor Garland drew a tripping penalty, giving the Canucks’ power play another chance to get to work. The Canucks’ power play personnel were snapping the puck around with poise tonight and did a good job of spreading out the Nashville penalty killers.
JT Miller executed a beautiful feed early into the power play to set up Brock Boeser right in front of Juuse Saros, and number six in white made no mistake in making this game 2-0:
Afterwards, the Canucks got a chance to do something they haven’t been given a chance to do much lately — defend an early lead.
Casey DeSmith certainly did his part, making a flurry of beautiful saves, capped off by this outstanding toe save that will look even better when you see all seven angles of the replay:
Quinn Hughes and Luke Evangelista mixed it up behind the net, resulting in offsetting penalties and 4-on-4 action. Shortly after, Gus Nyquist and Brock Boeser got tied up with each other, extending the 4-on-4 time.
The two sides continued to go back and forth, but the Canucks were again the better team territorially, just like they were in games one and two. Only this time, they had a lead to show for it.
The Canucks looked a lot more like their old selves tonight. They got contributions from their top players, their power play looked dangerous, and their penalty kill was effective. Additionally, they opened the scoring in the first period and entered the third with a lead.
The Canucks were in protect mode, and looking as confident as ever  with the lead. Nashville picked up their fourth power play of the night halfway through the third period but the Canucks’ penalty killers — and Casey DeSmith — continued to hold down the fort.
Things got a bit hairier for the Canucks when Nikita Zadorov’s attempt at clearing the puck 200 feet wound up in the crowd, giving the Preds 22 seconds of 5-on-3 time to work with.
Ian Cole put his body on the line to help the Canucks kill off both penalties, and this sequence certainly stands out as a reason why the Canucks now find themselves up in this series.
Nashville ended Casey DeSmith’s shutout bid late in the third period and looked dangerous with the extra attacker, but a sheer will to block shots for their goaltender meant this game ended as a Canucks win, as they now head into game four on Sunday leading the series 2-1.
With just twelve official shots on goal, the Canucks set a new franchise record for fewest amount of shots on goal in a playoff game.
The Canucks’ defence and goaltending came up huge in the third period, and their star players came through in the first two periods.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!
Be sure to tune into our post game show, Rink Wide with Jeff Paterson! Brendan Morrison is on tonight’s episode with guest host Irfaan Gaffar. We’ll be broadcasting live from Nashville shortly after the final horn, so be sure to come hang out and interact with us live in the YouTube live chat!

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