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Scenes from morning skate LIVE in Nashville: Canucks looking for top guns to break out in Game 3 vs Preds

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Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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NASHVILLE – The scene has shifted to Music City, USA, where the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators will resume their opening round Stanley Cup Playoff series at Bridgestone Arena tonight.
The series is tied 1-1 after the Preds got the split they were looking for in Vancouver with a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night. Both teams took the ice this morning ahead of tonight’s 6:30pm CT (4:30pm PT) puck drop.

What we saw

After a full practice in Nashville on Thursday, the Canucks held an optional skate on Friday morning. Noteables to take the ice included captain Quinn Hughes along with JT Miller and Brock Boeser. In all, 10 skaters and three goalies opted into the morning on-ice session.
Afterward, Rick Tocchet, who did not take to the ice, said that Tyler Myers would return to the line-up tonight after missing Game 2 with the flu. That means Noah Juulsen will come out of the line-up on defence. Otherwise, the coach anticipates going with the same 12 forwards he has used in each of the first two games of the series.
Casey DeSmith will make his second consecutive start in goal. DeSmith stopped 12 of the 15 shots he faced on Tuesday night after getting thrust into the starter’s role with the knee injury to Thatcher Demko.
It won’t matter who is in goal if the Canucks don’t get their top players going in this series. JT Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser combined for 111+154=265 in the regular season, but have a collective 0+2=2 through the first two games against the Preds. In fact, the Canucks had five 20-goal scorers during the regular season and not one of them has scored in this series so far. The Canucks did not have a single three-game stretch all season when one of Boeser (40 goals), Miller (37) or Pettersson (34) did not find the back of the net.
Dakota Joshua is the only player in the series with two goals. He also has an assist. Nikita Zadorov (1+1) and Quinn Hughes (2A) are the only other Canucks with multiple points through the first two games.
Filip Forsberg leads the Preds with a goal and two assists. He is one of four multi-point Predators through two games. Forsberg scored the game winner in the second period in Game 2. As he has since the All Star break, Forsberg opted out of the Preds morning skate. Otherwise, it was all hands on deck.
The Predators have opened the scoring in both games and have taken a lead to the third period in each of the contests.The Canucks, who led the NHL in first period goals during the regular season, have yet to hit the scoreboard in the opening 20 minutes of this series. Vancouver was 38-11-4 when getting the game’s first goal.
The shot attempts in Game 2 were 84-36 in favour of the Canucks, however the shots on goal were just 18-16 in Vancouver’s favour. Quinn Hughes led all Canucks skaters with 13 shot attempts followed by JT Miller with 10 and Elias Pettersson with nine. However, that trio managed just six shots on goal.
Nashville blocked 30 shots in Game 2 – tied for its most in a regulation playoff game in franchise history (the Predators also blocked 30 shots on May 7, 2011 at Vancouver (Second Round, Game 5). In all, thirteen different Predators skaters blocked at least one shot led by Alexandre Carrier with six.
Power plays have not been a factor in the series so far with the Canucks going zero for six while Nashville is one for eight (12.5%).
The Predators are adding some intrigue to the night by not disclosing the US anthem singer. It’s believed some Nashville royalty will belt out the Star Spangled Banner as has happened in previous playoff runs.
The Canucks won both of their games in Nashville in the regular season. They prevailed 3-2 on October 24th and 5-2 in a December 19th contest. While both games occurred before Christmas, if there is anything to take from the regular season series it is that the Canucks have had success in this building on two occasions already this season.
Today’s referees: Francois St. Laurent & Jon McIssac (Gord Dwyer is the standby official)

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on what has to change for his team in Game 3: “I think we can play a little faster. A little more north. I think that’s usually a good recipe for playing good road hockey. Playing faster and taking zones quicker is something we have to be better at.”
Tocchet on getting his top guns going: “They’ve had confidence before when they haven’t scored and then they’ve broken out. A couple of those guys have seemed a little bit nervous sometimes. They’ve got to play like it’s just hockey. Don’t worry about the stage. Sometimes you get that puck and you’re looking for something more. Just shoot and get in those areas. The proof is in the pudding. They’ve done it. A couple of hiccups here and there and just get back to your game. I don’t worry about those guys.”
Quinn Hughes on Canucks top players needing to find a way to step up in Game 3: “All those guys had some looks last game and for the most part those are going to go in for those guys. Definitely not worried about them. It’s Game 3 and I know that they want to have a big input on the series. I know they’re expecting to have a really good game tonight. And for myself, I just have to worry about myself and try to play a good game as well.”
Nikita Zadorov on embracing the role of the enemy in Nashville: “It’s cool when everybody hates you and they’re booing you and they’re against you. I think that probably gets me going even more to play on the road than at home. For me personally. I enjoy both energies.”
Do you like being the villain? “Yeah, a little bit (laughs).”
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