LaBarbera wins debut, leads Canucks over Predators

By Jim Diamond
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) — Jason Jaffray scored the
go-ahead goal with 4:06 remaining and Jason LaBarbera made 31
saves in his debut to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1
victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The win was Vancouver’s sixth straight over Nashville, which has
lost three in a row and four of its last five.

Just three seconds after a penalty to Nashville defenseman Greg
de Vries expired, Willie Mitchell fired a slap shot from the
left point that Jaffray tipped by Predator goaltender Pekka
Rinne on the stick side and put Vancouver ahead, 2-1.

The goal was the second of the season for Jaffray, with both
serving as game-winners.

“It was the tail end of the power play, and I just shot it,”
Mitchell said. “I wasn’t sure what it hit, and I thought it
might have hit Jaffray, but we will take it though.”

“I didn’t really see it,” Rinne said. “It is a tough way to
lose a game.”

LaBarbera appeared in his first game as a Canuck. He was
acquired from the Los Angeles Kings two days ago as a result of
injuries to goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Curtis Sanford.

“I wanted to establish my position because I’ve had tough luck
against Nashville in the past so it was good for me to get that
win against them,” said LaBarbera, a native of the Vancouver
suburb of Burnaby. “When the buzzer went off at the end of the
game, it was pretty amazing for me.”

“He’s a big goalie,” Mitchell said of LaBarbera. “No one is
Roberto Luongo, but he sure looked big like him in the net.”

After attempting just five shots in the first period, the
Predators put 17 on LaBarbera in the second. The 28-year old
stopped all but one attempt in the session, allowing an even
strength goal to Rich Peverley at the 7:53 mark to tie the game,

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As time expired on Kevin Bieksa’s interference penalty,
Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis sent a pass from the left point
to Radek Bonk in front of LaBarbera. Bonk slipped a backwards
pass between his legs to Peverley, where he had an easy wrist
shot into the vacated net for his second goal of the season.

“It was a play that we worked on a little bit as a back-door
play,” Peverley said. “It was a great play to me by Bonk to
know it was just going to be there, and I had a wide open net.”

“We are scoring a goal a game, and it is hard to win because
there isn’t much of a margin for error,” Nashville coach Barry
Trotz said. “We had a lot of chances and got some pucks behind
them, but we have got to score.”

Mattias Ohlund scored the game’s first goal at 7:19 of the
opening period, beating Rinne between the pads on a wrist shot
from the left boards.

“When you shoot the puck at the net, good things happen,” Ohlund

Rinne redeemed himself at the 5:15 mark of the second period
when he denied Henrik Sedin with a diving stick save at the
conclusion of a 2-on-1 with Pavol Demitra.

“We had some quality opportunities in the second where we just
didn’t execute,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “That
was a really positive first outing for Jason tonight because
your goaltender is capable of keeping you in the game, and that
is what he did tonight.”