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Apr 29, 2024 9:17 pm

Canucks return home with chance to put away Predators

Elias Lindholm

The Nashville Predators must recover from Sunday’s crushing loss to keep their season alive when they visit the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Tuesday.

After suffering a stunning 4-3 overtime loss in a game they led 3-1 with three minutes remaining in regulation, the Predators have the opportunity to show their mettle.

“It’s an Etch a Sketch, goldfish kind of mentality,” coach Andrew Brunette said Monday. “We had to win a game (in Vancouver) regardless. So just go win one. And everything, all the focus, all the effort is just about (Tuesday) night. It doesn’t matter how you got here. This is playoff hockey. Things happen fast, things change fast, and let’s change the narrative.”

The Predators, who reached the Stanley Cup playoffs as the conference’s first wild-card team, may be down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but they have been every bit as good as the Canucks. Certainly, a Game 4 victory was in their grasp and could have been sealed had forward Colton Sissons not hit the post with the net empty and the Predators holding a 3-2 edge.

“It’s hard not to like a lot of parts of our game, but at the same time, we’ve got to find ways to close it out and find ways to win games,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “We talked about our desperation level after Game 1 and proved that we can get that in Game 2 (a 4-1 victory). We have that to lean on here and that’s what we’ve got to do, is focus on winning one game.”

“We’ve played really good hockey in all four games and didn’t get rewarded maybe as much as we would’ve liked,” Brunette added. “But that doesn’t change the mentality of the group.”

The Canucks, who won the Pacific Division regular-season title, are looking to win a playoff series for the first time since 2020.

As improbable as Sunday’s victory went, they return home with all the momentum and plenty of motivation to close out the pesky Predators.

“There’s been times this year where we’ve shown a lot of character,” said forward Brock Boeser, whose hat-trick goal forced overtime. “I think that’s prepared us for this moment. I think the message is you can’t give up until the final horn, and we didn’t give up there. We continued to battle back and we felt that momentum shift once we tied it up. We were feeling really good going into overtime.”

Funny enough, the Canucks are not exactly believing they are on top of their game. While they took both games in Nashville, their 2-1 victory in Game 3 was won by clinging to a narrow lead and the Game 4 comeback came on a late outburst after generating very few scoring chances through 55 minutes.

“We’re all knowing that so far we haven’t played our best,” said Elias Lindholm, who scored the overtime winner. “There’s been a couple of periods here and there where we’ve played pretty good, but overall, we haven’t been nearly as good as we can. I think (Sunday) was showing a lot of character on the team — coming back like that the way we did — and, hopefully, we can build off that.”

There was no word Monday whether second-string goaltender Casey DeSmith will be given the green light to return to action. With No. 1 goalie Thatcher Demko on the shelf due to injury, Arturs Silovs made 27 saves in his playoff debut on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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