VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks were the NHL’s top guns in the regular season, but are suddenly shooting popguns in the playoffs.
They led the league in goal-scoring but rank dead last among the eight playoff clubs with only 18 goals in nine post-season games.
Henrik Sedin, who has yet to score in these playoffs after leading the NHL in scoring last season and finishing fourth this year, said they can’t let the sudden drought get to them.
“In here we are about winning games,”Sedin said in the Vancouver locker room after rookie Matt Halischuk’s overtime goal fashioned a 2-1 Nashville Predators victory on Saturday.
“There were times during the regular season when we weren’t scoring enough.
“We find ways to win games. We didn’t do it tonight but we can’t be thinking about those things.”
The goals will come like the 261 in the regular season if the Canucks stay the course.
“This is about playing the right way for us,”said Sedin who has five post-season assists.
“We get chances by playing that way. We don’t get chances by cheating (on defence) or doing stuff like that.”
Vancouver entered the playoffs with another Art Ross scoring champion in twin brother Daniel Sedin.
He and second-line centre Ryan Kesler led the Canucks with 41 goals in the regular season.
While Daniel had five goals against the Chicago Blackhawks, Kesler will be looking to score for the first time in 10 games when the tied series switches to Nashville for Tuesday’s Game 3.
Coach Alain Vigneault tried to kickstart his first line in the third period by moving Mikael Samuelsson to the third unit and skating Jannik Hansen with the Sedins.
That didn’t work and the experiment ended in overtime after the Predators came within 67 seconds of being blanked for the second straight game in the best-of-seven series.
“There is not a lot of room out here,”Vigneault said.
“You have to give credit to the goaltending. He (Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne) made some huge saves, especially in OT.”
Hansen scored twice in the first round but Nashville is a different team.
“If you play 82 games against Nashville, you are not going to lead the league in scoring,”Hansen said.
“We need to get back to basics, get in front of him and put a lot more pucks at him and make it hard for him.”
Vancouver’s only goal came shorthanded when Alex Burrows stole the puck in the neutral zone, passed to Kesler who returned the puck to his winger.
Burrows’first shot hit defenceman Shea Weber. The puck bounced to Burrows who buried his second chance.
The goal came against the run of play as the Predators brought their grinding, workmanlike game, outshooting the Canucks 36-15 in regulation.
The Canucks feasted on the power play during the regular season but Nashville killed five penalties in Thursday’s opening game and took only one penalty through nearly 95 minutes on Saturday.
“We talked about that a lot in the last series,”Weber said of staying out of the box.“Anaheim’s power play killed us and we know (Vancouver’s) power play is just as good.”
The Canucks had the best overtime chances before Halischuk gave his club a split of the first two games.
Kevin Bieksa broke in with the Sedins and slapped a pass at a seemingly open net but a diving Rinne smothered the shot.
Maxim Lapierre found himself with the puck on Rinne’s doorstep but Rinne, who has stopped 61 of 63 Canuck shots over two games, outwaited him.
“That save he had on Juice (Bieksa) was unbelievable,”said former Canuck Shane O’Brien.
“They had a 3-on-2. We tried to keep them to the outside. Daniel made a world-class play and Pekks made a world-class save. That’s why I love him.”
NOTES: Canuck defenceman Sami Salo missed his third game of the playoffs with an undisclosed injury but was expected to make the trip to Nashville … David Legwand, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo are the only three Predators that remain from the squad that made the club’s first playoff appearance in 2004 … Nashville’s Joel Ward had a five-game points streak snapped when Vancouver posted a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of this series.