2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – Semifinals Game 2 Recap
Western Conference Semifinal Game 2 - Nashville 2, Vancouver 1 (2OT) – Series tied, 1-1
If you want to look up the term “stolen win” in the sports dictionary, a listing of Saturday night’s NHL playoff game between the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks would serve to fit the definition. If ever a team made away like a bandit after appearing to be a beaten and spent force for 95 percent of the night, Nashville matched the profile.
The Predators scored a soft goal with 1:07 left in regulation and then watched their goaltender, Pekka Rinne, make multiple jawdropping saves in one and a half overtime periods, as they evened up the Western Conference semifinals with a shocking win at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Nashville was on its way to a second straight 1-0 defeat and a 2-0 series deficit when a prayer of a goal gave the Preds new life. That life was saved several times by Rinne in the bonus cantos, and when Matt Halischuk scored at 14:51 of the second overtime, the complexion of this series changed on a dime.
It was all so improbable: Ryan Suter freely admitted that he was just trying to earn his Nashville teammates a whistle and an offensive-zone face-off when he fired a long shot behind the goal line as the third period was dwindling down to the final minute. Somehow, the shot banked off the back of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo and off the inside portion of his skate. The puck’s carom off the skate directed the frozen rubber into the net, and in the blink of an eye, the Predators had been granted an overtime period by the hockey gods.
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In the overtime, Rinne took over. He robbed Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa on a headlong dive to close off an open net. He also performed the Dominik Hasek snow angel and made a pair of dazzling snatch-catch glove saves at the end of open-ice sequences in which the Canucks earned glorious chances at game-ending goals. Rinne made 18 saves in nearly 35 minutes of overtime competition, stopping Vancouver with a full range of bodily contortions and angular movements. He unleashed the full toolbox of goaltending skills at his disposal, and he continued the game long enough for Halischuk to beat Luongo with a top-shelf shot three fourths of the way through the second overtime stanza. Luongo made 44 saves, but his soft-goal lapse just 67 seconds from the regulation-time finish line will linger on the Canucks’ plane flight to Tennessee for Game 3.
That’s what life is like when a game gets stolen from you.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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