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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,

1-1.

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

said.

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."

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