On Thursday night it was the Ryan Kesler Show (Part Two), on Broadway in Music City. With actress Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and a host of other luminaries in attendance, it was Kesler’s star that shined the brightest for the second game in a row.
Kesler scored the game winning goal on a power play for the second game in row, with tonight’s coming at the 7:28 mark in the third period. He also assisted on two other goals. Kesler has owned the Predators for the last two games, tallying three power play goals and three assists while figuring in on all but one of Vancouver’s goals.
Barry Trotz was clear on Kesler’s play: “Right now, he’s their best player, bar none.”
Vancouver’s other goals came from Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler, and an empty netter by Henrik Sedin. The Predators goals were supplied by Joel Ward and Cody Franson.
Roberto Luongo continued his steady play in net stopping 19 of 21 Predator shots. Pekka Rinne did not appear to be as shark as he has been in the first three games, allowing three goals on 27 Canuck shots.
The real story of the game was Nashville’s inability to get shots on net. Vancouver’s defense has done an excellent job of closing down the shooting lanes and eliminating shots on rebounds.
“They blocked a lot of shots in the last thirty minutes when we were trying to put pucks there. We’re going to have to do a better job heading into Vancouver,” Trotz explained.
Patric Hornqvist led the Predators with five shots. When asked how the team can get more pucks on net in game five he said. “It’s hard to say. They did a good job of boxing out. We have to be a little harder around the net and get those second chances which will get more goals and more shots on net.”
The team has not lost their resolve to win the series. Rinne explained, “It was a disappointing game. Now, it’s our backs against the wall. We have to win.”
Trotz had the final word on the situation, “I look at the task and everyone’s saying it’s three (wins). No, the task is not three, the task is one. If we don’t get one the rest doesn’t matter.”
Colin Wilson played his first game of the playoffs, replacing the injured Steve Sullivan. Wilson played 13:34 and delivered a couple of hits and was one of two in the faceoff circle.
Jerred Smithson left the game at the end of the first period and did not return. Trotz indicated that he had an “upper body” injury and would also miss the next game. It would appear that J. P. Dumont will fill the empty slot.
The Predators leave for Vancouver at 10 a.m. on Friday to prepare fro Saturday’s game five at 7 p.m. CDT at the Rogers Arena.