Joel Ward scored two goals in the Predators 4-3 victory over the Canucks Saturday night in Vancouver, and there have been none more important in his entire career. Ward scored both goals in the 3rd period with the second being the game-winner. He also tallied an assist on the opening score of the game, which was scored by Legwand on a shorthanded breakaway.
Raffi Torres and Ryan Kesler also scored in the first to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room. David Legwand scored his second goal in the game in a less conventional form. After he gathered the puck behind the net, he flipped it over the goal, and it bounced off of Canuck defenseman Christian Erhoff passed the unsuspecting Luongo into the net. There are no flukey goals in the playoffs. Only rewards for hard work. The Predators gladly accepted this reward, and the game was tied at two.
At 1:14 into the 3rd, Mike Fisher found the afore mentioned Ward who buried the one-timer past Luongo. Jordin Tootoo made his entrance onto the scorecard as he assisted on Ward's game-winner which made the score 4-2. The Canucks carried play from about the six minute mark and were pressuring Pekka Rinne with a good portion of their 34 shots on net. Vancouver finally broke through on a Ryan Kessler shot from the top of the circle resulting in a 4-3 lead for Nashville. Once again, the Predators could not make things easy on themselves, trying to make things as interesting as possible.
But for the first time since 2007, a game five involving the Nashville Predators did not go into overtime. The Vezina candidate, Pekka Rinne, made all the necessary stops and the Predators did a good job of clearing the zone to prevent the Canucks from setting up their offense late in the game with Luongo on the bench for the extra-attacker. The final horn sounded with the scoreboard reading 4-3 in favor of the good guys.
Ryan Kessler continued to be the best player on the ice for Vancouver Saturday night, and the Sedin twins continued to be silent.
The Predators continued their year of firsts by winning an elimination game for the first time in franchise history. This first reinforces Coach Barry Trotz's view of his team as resilient. Never before has a Predator team won with the backs against the wall.
For the Predators to continue their 2011 playoff run, they must win Monday night at home to avoid another first: not winning one game at home in a playoff series.
A win results in the first ever game seven in franchise history.
History will be made no matter the result.