Pettersson pots milestone as Canucks edge Predators 4-3 in shootout
VANCOUVER — It wasn't the prettiest win, but Vancouver Canucks coach Rick Tocchet thought a 4-3 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night could provide his team with some valuable lessons.
“I didn't think we had our legs but we hung in there," the coach said, noting that his group needs to know they can't make bad passes or other costly mistakes when they aren't at the top of their game.
"It's actually a great learning experience. It really is. That's what I told the players: if you don't have it, make sure that you don't hurt the team and I think that's a learning experience.”
Elias Pettersson scored the game winner, putting a shot through the legs of Nashville netminder Juuse Saros in the third round of the shootout.
Vancouver's Arturs Silovs then denied Tommy Novak to seal the win and improve to 3-2-0 in his brief NHL career.
After watching Pettersson score, the 21-year-old Latvian goalie knew the stakes were high.
“For sure, pressure is on," said Silovs, who stopped 29-of-32 shots on Monday. "You’re thinking I have to make a save and win the game.”
Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin and Dakota Joshua all scored for the Canucks (26-32-5) in regulation.
Luke Evangelista replied with a pair of goals for the Predators (31-23-7), while Colton Sissons also found the back of the net and Jeremy Lauzon contributed a pair of assists.
Juuse Saros made 26 saves for Nashville, who are halfway through a six-game road swing.
"I thought it was a hard-fought battle," Predators coach John Hynes said of the game. "Both teams worked, they had pushes, we had pushes and I'm glad that we got a point out of the game because all those little points matter."
An unfortunate clearing attempt helped Nashville level the score at 3-3 late in the third period.
Vancouver defenceman Guillaume Brisebois tried to shovel the puck out of the Canucks' zone and instead put it on the tape of Predators defenceman Tyson Barrie. The blue liner sent a blast flying from above the faceoff circle and Evangelista tipped it in for his second goal of the game at the 16:55 mark.
Evangelista bit into the Canucks' advantage 8:31 into the third, collecting a rebound off Kiefer Sherwood's shot and delivering it into the back of Vancouver's net to make it 3-2 with his first NHL goal.
The 21-year-old Toronto native said he had a lot of opportunities to score across his first four games in the league and finally burying one came with a lot of emotions.
“A lot of shock. I think pretty big relief," he said. "I had a lot of chances and I just wasn't able to bury so to finally see one go in the net was a big relief, so it was pretty calming.”
Joshua gave Vancouver a two-goal cushion 5:43 into the final period.
Nils Aman dashed into Nashville territory and sent a back pass to Joshua in the slot. The bruising Canucks forward put a wrist shot through the legs of Predators D-man Ryan McDonagh for his ninth goal of the season.
Podkolzin gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead midway through the opening frame.
Kyle Burroughs unleashed a long bomb from inside the blue line and Podkolzin, stationed in the slot, deflected it up and over Saros' blocker 10:56 into the first.
The Predators levelled the score at 1-1 just 4:55 into the game.
Jeremy Lauzon fired a shot from the top of the circle and Cole Smith tipped it, sending the puck ricocheting off the post. The rebound hit Silovs in the skate before Sissons tapped it into the yawning net from the top of the crease for his 11th goal of the year.
Twenty-four seconds earlier, Pettersson got the Canucks on the scoreboard.
The Swedish centre collected a pass from Kuzmenko and waited patiently at the faceoff dot for his moment before ripping a blistering shot up and over Saros' shoulder 4:31 into the first period.
The goal — Pettersson's 30th of the season — marked his 300th regular-season NHL point. It came in his 306th career game, making him the second-fastest player in Canucks' history to achieve the feat behind only Pavel Bure (246).
“That’s obviously something I’m very happy with," Pettersson said. "But (I've got to) keep going and reach more points.”
Both sides struggled on the power play Monday. Vancouver went 0-for-3 with the man advantage and Nashville was 0-for-1.
UPS AND DOWNS
Silovs was called up from the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Canucks on an emergency basis Monday after goalie Collin Delia was sidelined with a non-COVID illness.
Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers played his 900th regular-season NHL game. Drafted 12th overall by the Sabres in 2008, the 33-year-old blue liner has registered 88 goals and 248 assists over 15 seasons with stints in Buffalo, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
Canucks: Continue a six-game homestand Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Predators: Take on the Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2023.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press