NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vancouver Canucks keep finding ways to win no matter how long it takes.
Alex Edler scored in the sixth round of a shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 Tuesday night for their fifth win in six games.
The Canucks improved to 2-1 in the season series against the team they ousted in the Western Conference semifinals last season where they won all three games in Nashville including the series-clinching sixth game. They did it by playing beyond regulation for a fifth straight game and the eighth in 10 games.
“We’re obviously not a team that gives up, and we expected a close game with these guys,” Canucks centre Ryan Kesler said. “We’ve been in a lot of overtime games and shootout games lately, so we’re accustomed to this now. And we’re getting on the right end of these so we’re doing something right.”
Edler beat Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne through his pads with a shot he wasn’t sure would work.
Colin Wilson tried to extend the shootout for Nashville, but was stopped by goalie Roberto Luongo who stopped 37 shots for the win. Luongo said he’s been working on making saves in shootouts as he improved to 6-5 this season.
“It’s a tight league. Not a lot of separation, and we’re going to be involved in a lot of tight games,” Luongo said. “It’s the type of hockey we’re going to be involved in especially coming down the stretch.”
Alex Burrows had the only other goal in the third round of the shootout. Byron Bitz had a goal and an assist, and Kesler and Daniel Sedin each scored goals for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin had two assists.
David Legwand answered Burrows’ goal to extend the shootout. Wilson, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn scored a goal each for Nashville.
The Canucks chased Rinne in both games earlier this season in Vancouver. He gave up three goals in the first, including two 23 seconds apart late in the period. But Rinne settled down and didn’t allow another goal until the shootout. The loss snapped his 11-game winning streak.
“It’s a goalie against a shooter, and we both have a chance,” Rinne said. “But I wasn’t happy with those two goals I gave up.”
Nashville came in with the NHL’s best record at 14-3-0 since Dec. 28, but lost for the second time in three games despite outshooting Vancouver 40-31. The Predators went 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
“We were down 3-1 against Vancouver and came back and I think we were the better team over 60 minutes,” Predators forward Patric Hornqvist said. “But they came out a little better than us in the shootout.”
Luongo stopped Kostitsyn, Fisher and Ryan Ellis in the shootout to keep the Canucks alive before finally getting Wilson for the win.
The Predators started by outshooting Vancouver 9-3 early, peppering Luongo. But Kesler, who scored so well against Nashville in beating the Predators last post-season, got the Canucks on the board for a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal.
He scored his 17th this season at 11:42 of the first when Burrows, who was behind the net, passed the puck out to him in the right circle.
Nashville answered right back as Legwand dug the puck out along the boards near the blue-line, and Wilson scored his 11th at 11:37 with a shot from the left circle that slipped between Luongo’s body and glove arm.
Vancouver then took a 3-1 lead by scoring twice in 23 seconds late in the period.
Bitz scored his first of the season from the high slot on a one-timer from Henrik Sedin at 18:21, then Daniel Sedin scored at 18:44 off assists from Bitz and his brother.
Kostitsyn trimmed the lead at 4:14 of the second with his 14th. Kevin Klein’s slapshot redirected off Kostitsyn’s right skate, and officials upheld the goal after a review.
“If they had called that back, I probably would’ve had a heart attack right there,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Fisher tied it up when a shot by Shea Weber bounced off him at 5:16. Luongo stopped the shot, but the puck squirted backward over the line when he moved his right leg.
Nashville had a chance to take the lead with the man advantage after Aaron Rome went to the box for delay of game at 8:46 of the second. But Luongo stopped shot after shot, including one by Wilson where the Canucks’ goalie stretched his left foot to stop the puck near the crossbar.
“The puck … just squirted out to their guy and tried to make myself as big as possible, and thank God I wear a size-15 boot and was able to get a toe on that,” Luongo said.
Notes: Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis played his 600th NHL career game, while teammate Kevin Bieksa played his 400th. … Henrik Sedin went to the locker-room early in the game after Nashville defenceman Kevin Klein’s slapshot went off his foot. … Nashville’s two goals in the second was its seventh multi-goal period in eight games. … Fisher has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in his past 16 games with nine (eight goals, one assist) in the past eight.