VANCOUVER – This time the hockey gods smiled on the Vancouver Canucks.
Pucks that didn’t go in during a frustrating 4-0 loss Tuesday to the New York Rangers bounced Vancouver’s way Thursday in a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
“We’ll take it,”said Chris Higgins, whose third goal of the season was the result of one of many fortuitous bounces.
“It just shows we’re playing in their end and getting the opportunities and we cashed in tonight.”
Higgins scored when he tried to set up linemate Cody Hodgson on a 2-on-1 break.
Predator Jonathon Blum blocked the attempt but Higgins wristed the rebound off the defenceman’s stick behind a helpless Pekka Rinne in the Nashville net.
It was one of several goals that involved a little puck luck.
Daniel Sedin scored from behind Rinne’s net by bouncing a shot in off the goalie’s glove.
Brother Henrik got what proved to be the game-winner when his power-play shot deflected off defender Kevin Klein.
Dale Weise got his first goal as a Canuck by tipping a puck Alex Edler lobbed toward the Predators goal.
“They went in but we made it more difficult,”said Higgins who gave Vancouver a 4-1 first-period cushion that saw Rinne give way to Anders Lindback at the start of the middle period.
“We had more net presence, we were jumping on loose pucks a little better tonight around the net and getting those second opportunities.”
The Canucks, who were 0-for-8 on the power play against the Rangers, cashed in on two of 10 man advantage situations against Nashville.
Ryan Kesler got his first goal of the season in his second game back from hip surgery when he scored on one of Vancouver’s pair of two-man advantages.
“We were throwing a lot of pucks on net and we got rewarded this time,”said Kesler who scored 41 goals last season and won the Selke trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.
Matt Halischuk counted for the Predators who ice the NHL’s youngest lineup with an average age of 26.
The Stanley Cup finalists improved to 3-3-1 after giving up four third-period goals in Tuesday’s 4-0 home loss to the New York Rangers.
The Predators lost their fourth straight game to drop to 2-3-1 after opening the season with a pair of road victories.
Nashville has been outshot in every game this season and Vancouver held a 40-25 edge.
“Obviously there’s no excuses in this game and it’s the NHL and they’re a good team but it seems like tonight, sometimes you feel almost disbelief that things are going that way and it doesn’t matter how hard you work,”Rinne said of the pucks that eluded him.
Henrik Sedin, who had a goal and an assist on Vancouver’s first two scoring plays to pass Stan Smyl for third on the Canucks’career points list, said Nashville couldn’t match Vancouver’s speed.
“We’re trying to play fast,”said Sedin who scored the game-winner on the power play.
“When we do that, it’s tough to catch us and other teams start reaching in a little bit with their sticks and they get called.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said his club’s effort was good but couldn’t overcome unlucky bounces.
“It was Murphy’s Law a little bit,”said Trotz, whose clubs have made the playoffs six of the last seven seasons.
“It was a little bit frustrating, but we haven’t played well…so you can’t just turn it up for one game. We took too many penalties but we played hard and that’s a start.”
NOTES: Henrik Sedin now has 160 goals and 515 assists for 675 points, two more than Smyl … Nashville won two of three playoff games here last spring … the Canucks have a rare 1 p.m. PDT start on Saturday when they play host to the Minnesota Wild … the Predators end their three-game road trip Saturday in Calgary … Marco Sturm drew into the Vancouver lineup and played 16:26 when Mikael Samuelsson sat out because of stiffness … Sturm, a free agent signing in the off-season, was a healthy scratch in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the New York Rangers.