In a season marred by third-period collapses, Ryan Miller felt like the Vancouver Canucks finally got a bounce.
The veteran goalie made 35 saves, Bo Horvat had a goal and an assist, and the Canucks defeated Nashville 4-2 on Saturday to snap the Predators’ franchise-record 14-game point streak.
Miller’s best stop of the night came five minutes into the third when he stretched to make a toe save on James Neal’s rebound effort with his team clinging to a 3-2 lead.
“That’s a little bit of desperation where it hits the inside of my foot and stays out instead of skipping under,” said Miller. “That’s a little bit of luck ... and maybe due for it, too.”
Vancouver came in just 15-4-7 when leading after 40 minutes, by far the worst mark in the NHL, but weathered the storm as the Predators threw 33 shots at Miller over the final two periods.
“We just knew it was going to be a tough night,” said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. “They’re a good team and you can see why they were on that streak.”
Sven Baertschi, Derek Dorsett and Daniel Sedin, into an empty net, also scored for Vancouver (27-28-12), while Alexandre Burrows and Radim Vrbata each chipped in with two assists.
Mike Fisher and Colton Sissons replied for Nashville (34-22-13), which got 24 stops from Pekka Rinne.
“They’ve been playing really well as of late,” said Horvat, who scored his first in 14 games. “We played a great hockey team tonight.”
Roman Josi added two assists for the Predators, who came in on a 9-0-5 run and had not lost in regulation since Feb. 9, but were thoroughly outplayed in the opening 20 minutes.
“Today was just bad. We didn’t work hard in the first period,” said Josi. “There’s no effort and that just can’t happen. It was the worst first period in a long time for us. We just didn’t battle.”
Despite the loss, Nashville still occupies the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, seven points up on Minnesota and Colorado. Vancouver, meanwhile, is eight points back of the Wild and Avalanche.
Trailing 2-0 after the first, the Predators came out with renewed vigour in the second and got on the board at 9:17 when Josi fed Fisher in the slot for his 11th of the season following a series of Vancouver turnovers.
“We had a couple chances to get it out,” said Desjardins. “Those are mistakes against good teams and we ended up paying for it.”
But the Canucks got that one back just 1:18 later off the rush when Yannick Weber fired a shot from the right side that bounced in off Horvat for his 11th after Rinne made the initial save.
The Predators responded with 3:40 left in the period when Josi wheeled through the neutral zone, played a give-and-go with Austin Watson, and found Sissons alone in front for his third.
Nashville outshot Vancouver 17-8 in the second and kept coming in the third, but Miller was there to hold the Predators at bay until Sedin eventually scored his 26th into an empty net with under a minute to go.
“(Miller) was unreal tonight. He’s been unreal all year,” said Horvat. “Some of the games he hasn’t been getting the bounces. Tonight he stood on his head for us again. Without him we don’t get the win.”
The Canucks dominated the first, outshooting the Predators 13-4, and were rewarded with two late goals to take a lead to the locker-rooms.
Baertschi opened the scoring with 2:16 left when he fought off Shea Weber in front to swipe a rebound off the end boards past Rinne for his 14th.
Dorsett then doubled Vancouver’s advantage with 58.3 remaining after taking a nice no-look feed from Horvat for his fourth of the campaign and first in 30 games.
“Probably one of our best periods of the year,” said Horvat.Report Typo/Error