Erat’s hat trick lifts Predators over Canucks

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—The Vancouver Canucks had not lost a game in Nashville in more than three years. Martin Erat(notes) took care of that.

Erat had his second career NHL hat trick and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-2 victory over the Canucks on Tuesday night.

The Predators beat the Canucks at home for the first time since Nov. 23, 2006. After winning the first two games of a four-game trip, the Canucks lost at Carolina and Nashville.

Patric Hornqvist(notes) had the other goal for the Predators. Ryan Kesler(notes) and Daniel Sedin(notes) scored for Vancouver.

Erat gave Nashville a 1-0 lead at 4:19 of the first period. He corralled a loose puck below the goal line and banked a shot in, first off the goal post and then off the left skate of goalie Roberto Luongo(notes).

Erat struck again at 3:03 of the second period. With the Predators on the power play, Francis Bouillon(notes) sent Erat into the Vancouver zone with a tape-to-tape pass from the red line. Erat skated toward Luongo and beat him between the pads with a forehand to backhand move.

“We made a few mistakes, but you can only go to the well so many times before it bites you,” Luongo said. “Taking penalties every game, you get away with it sometimes, but it’s going to hurt you once in a while.”

After scoring just one goal in his first 17 games, Erat has eight in his last 10. His only other three-goal game was March 4, 2008, at Edmonton.

“They didn’t bounce for me at the beginning of the season, and I just tried to get myself together,” Erat said. “I’m happy they are just going in right now.”

Steve Sullivan(notes) assisted on Erat’s first two goals.

Vancouver cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:12 of the second with a power-play goal.

With the Canucks on a 5-on-3 advantage, Henrik Sedin(notes) found Ryan Kesler alone in front of goalie Pekka Rinne(notes) where Kesler had an easy tap-in for his sixth goal.

Kesler’s goal snapped a stretch of four games in which Vancouver went without a power-play goal.

“Right now, we have guys that can play a lot better, that have to play a lot better,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “We need to start watching the standings here a little bit more and the importance of these games right now that we’re finding ways to lose.”

Rinne finished the night with 34 saves, recording his 12th win of the season.

“Vancouver played a really gritty, in your face game, but we managed the game really well,” Rinne said. “It was a huge two points for us.”

Hornqvist recorded Nashville’s second power-play goal of the game at 11:27 of the third period when he completed a tic-tac-toe passing play off feeds from Erat and Predators captain Jason Arnott(notes).

“The Hornqvist goal was a really well executed play,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “The power play had some more looks today. They entered better, and then they executed better.”

Daniel Sedin scored at 16:25 of the third to cut the Predators’ lead to 3-2, but Erat sealed Nashville’s win with an empty-netter.

“I was just trying to make it to the red line, so I didn’t get icing, and I shot it on the net,” Erat said of the empty-net goal. “I’m just happy it went in.”

NOTES: The Predators are 13-1 when scoring a power-play goal this season. … Eight of Erat’s nine goals this season have been scored at home. Vancouver D Alexander Edler(notes) left the game midway through the first period after being hit by Nashville D Shea Weber(notes). … Daniel and Henrik Sedin both have points in four consecutive games.

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