Canucks grab second straight win to push Preds to edge of elimination

Posted: May 06, 2011

The Vancouver Canucks can prove they learned from Chicago the importance of closing out an opponent the first chance they get.

Ryan Kesler broke a tie with a power-play goal at 7:28 of the third period, and the visiting Canucks beat the Nashville Predators, 4-2, last night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

The Canucks, the Presidents' Trophy winners for the NHL's best regular-season record, can close out the series tomorrow night in Game 5 in Vancouver. They needed overtime in the seventh game to oust Chicago in the opening round after blowing a 3-0 series lead.

"Absolutely, that's why we came here," Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin said. "Every game has been close, but I think we had the upper hand in shots and scoring chances too, so we feel good about ourselves."

Christian Ehrhoff scored a power-play goal and had two assists, Kesler also had two assists, and Alexander Edler had a goal. Henrik Sedin notched his first points in the series with two assists and an empty-net goal with 20.6 seconds left.

Joel Ward and Cody Franson each had a goal and an assist for Nashville. The Predators lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason, but coach Barry Trotz isn't conceding.

"We've been on death's doorstep a couple times," Trotz said. "In the Anaheim series, we were there, and we found a way to come back and win. In Vancouver, we were there, and you know we find ways. And as I said, we've dug ourselves a hole, but we've been in a few holes this year, and this group has been able to do it all year."

If Kesler keeps playing the way he has, the Predators likely will return home to pack up for the offseason.

"Right now, he's their best player bar none," Trotz said.

Kesler has six points in the past two games, and he scored his second straight winner with a power-play goal off a penalty he drew.

This time, Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter yanked him down with an arm around his neck for a holding call, and Kesler scored 1:07 later with a beautiful goal. Kesler sliced through a couple of Predators and beat Pekka Rinne with a wrister from the slot. In Game 3, Kesler scored in OT.

"It was a great breakout on the power play," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "It was an amazing goal by a player whose will to win right now is very strong, and he is competing very hard."

Nashville tried to rally, finally getting Rinne to the bench with about 30 seconds left. Vancouver took its timeout with 29.3 seconds left, and Nashville couldn't hold the puck in off the ensuing faceoff. Henrik Sedin clinched the victory with his first goal this postseason.

"It's a tough position to put ourselves in, but it's definitely not over by any means," Nashville captain Shea Weber said.

The Predators opened with plenty of energy with yet another sellout crowd armed with T-shirts to paint the arena gold and fan noisemakers. But Vancouver has been outshooting and outskating Nashville in taking both games in Music City.

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