For the second consecutive road game, the Vancouver Canucks proved 3 is their unlucky number, as yet another hat-trick proved their downfall.
Despite a couple of individual standout performances by the Canucks, the team as a whole was unable to show the kind of finish that wins hockey games. The edge in special teams went to Nashville, who registered two goals on five power play opportunities. The Canucks were only able to score once in their five chances, but were successful once they established a precence in front of Preds goalie Pekka Rinne.
The Canucks threw 36 shots at Rinne, who was definitely fighting the puck in the third period. Both Sami Salo and Alex Burrows blasted slapshots at the 6′5 sophomore Finn. But the Predators defense, one of the better corps in the NHL, cleared traffic and threats from the crease.
The Canucks had not lost a game in Nashville in over three years.
"They just didn't bounce for me at the beginning of the season, and I just tried to get myself together," lamented Martin Erat, who finished the night with 3 goals and an assist. "I am happy they are just going in right now."
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, on the other hand, was less pleased. "Right now, we have guys that can play better, that have to play better. We need to start watching the standings a little bit more and the importance of these games that we're finding a way to lose."
The Canucks opened their 4 game road trip with two convincing wins, but fizzled in their last two starts. Home ice has been an advantage for the club this year, so their upcoming 8 game home stand comes at an opportune time.
As Vigneault alluded to, it's not too early to start the standings watch. The loss dropped the Canucks to 10th place in the Western conference, 1 point ahead of Columbus, who holds a game in hand. With the Anaheim Ducks winning in overtime, the Canucks are also only 4 points removed from last place. Captain Roberto Luongo coined the situation aptly. "We made a few mistakes, but you can only go to the well so many times before it bites you.. Taking penalties every game, you get away with it sometimes, but it's going to hurt you once in awhile."
The Orca Bay crew has a shot at some redemption Thursday when they entertain the Atlanta Thrashers at GM Place.
Catch more Canuck action at www.thecanuckway.com
Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo