The Predators registered 48 shots on Thursday night, but it was the Canucks, who scored five times on the power play on their way to a 6-3 victory at Bridgestone Arena. The result pushes Nashville’s winless streak to six games and gives them a 9-9-3 overall record.
Much like they did in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Winnipeg, the Predators had reason to be content with a good portion of their play, but the penalty kill faltered on this occasion and gave them their second loss to the Canucks this season.
“We need to stay out of the penalty box,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We talked about details of the game, and some of the penalties we took I thought were undisciplined and they ended up costing us tonight. From a standpoint of working to play and generate, I thought we did that. I thought we competed right to the end. Again, I thought we gave up too many [power-play] goals.”
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Preds forward Matt Duchene said. “Things aren’t bouncing our way right now, but at the same time we’re not making it easy on ourselves either. Whenever things are tough sledding like right now, you’ve got to do whatever you can to give yourself a chance.”
Nashville scored the game’s first goal, and it was Ryan Johansen, who capitalized on a breakaway to give his club their first lead since Nov. 9. The Canucks scored twice on the man advantage before the opening period was out, but Calle Jarnkrok got a power-play marker to tie the game early in the second.
The second stanza saw three more power-play goals for the Canucks, and after Duchene cut the deficit to two with a deflection in the third, Vancouver added one into the empty net to finish the night off.
Juuse Saros took over for Pekka Rinne in the Nashville net to start the third period. Jacob Markstom made 45 saves for the Canucks on another night when the Predators had plenty of looks at the net but not enough to end up in the win column.
“It’s tough, I feel like we did a lot of good things,” Johansen said. “Usually, you know when you don’t deserve to win and things aren’t going your way if you’re not doing the right things, but I feel like we did a lot of good things tonight. Obviously, the special teams hurt us big time.”
The Predators now turn their attention to a home-and-home set with the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, a formidable pair of tests against division rivals. And for Nashville, the message remains the same – they simply have to find a way to work themselves out of the slump.
“It’s frustrating – everybody wants to win in here,” Preds Captain Roman Josi said. “It’s frustrating when it’s not going your way, but you’ve got to find a way to get out of it. You’ve got to stick together, put in the work and be desperate the next game. You put in the work; it’s going to come.”
“Right now, is about digging deep,” Duchene said. “We have two huge, really tough games coming up, and there’s no better time to get out of this and now… You don’t want to let this get away from you. There’s lots of games [left in the season], but we have to get out of this.”
Viktor Arvidsson recorded an assist on Ryan Johansen’s goal for his 200th career point.
Roman Josi also assisted on Johansen’s goal, and the Preds captain became one of two defensemen in franchise history to average at least one point per game through the team’s first 21 contests in a season (also Shea Weber in 2008-09: 10g-11a-21pts).
Kyle Turris, Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin were scratched for the Preds on Thursday night against Vancouver.
Nashville now heads to St. Louis to meet the Blues on Saturday night (at 7 p.m. CT) before returning home to host their division rival again on Monday evening.