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May 2, 2024 5:13 pm

Home ice means little in Canucks’ series against Predators

Sam Lafferty

It has been a road warrior series so far between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators, and the Canucks are itching to continue that trend when they visit Music City on Friday with the opportunity to close it out.

The Canucks lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round set. The past four games have been won by the road squad. Vancouver captured both clashes in Nashville so far.

“We’ve been a pretty good road team all year, so I think we’re comfortable playing outside of our building,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said. “Sometimes we play actually better on the road. This is a tough building. We know there was a couple of games there maybe we didn’t deserve, just like we thought Game 5 (Tuesday’s 2-1 home loss) we deserved. It’s one of those series that it doesn’t really matter. It’s who wins the game.”

Regardless of the location, however, the Canucks know they must do a better job of generating an attack. They have managed only 92 shots on goal through the first five games of the series. Vancouver’s potent power play has also struggled, with goals in only one game so far.

Even so, armed with the belief they were the better team last outing, the Canucks think they are on track to close out the Predators.

“I think there’s a lot to build on,” forward Sam Lafferty said. “The intensity is there, the effort is there. Overall, for the most part, the execution is there. It’s just, obviously, we know it’s going to be tough to close these guys out. They’re a good team, and they’re fighting for their lives. We know it’s going to be really hard.”

The Predators have their own reason to feel confident as they prepare to play in front of their frenzied fans. Nashville drummed up a third-period comeback en route to Tuesday’s 2-1 win in Vancouver that staved off elimination.

Winning a series when down 3-1 is a tall order, but the Predators made the playoffs because of a strong home record. They know full well the Canucks do not want to return home to play a winner-take-all Game 7.

“We all talked about it, the whole group, we were down 3-1 and we actually felt like we played two pretty good games (at home),” captain Roman Josi said. “But it doesn’t really matter, right? We didn’t get the wins. We knew nothing’s going to be given to us, so we’ve got to step up and play better and give even more and I thought we did that (last game).”

Last game, it was the Predators who used the rope-a-dope strategy and made the most of their late scoring opportunities. Just like the Canucks, Nashville believes it has another gear to hit.

“I know we had stretches that we were really good,” coach Andrew Brunette said. “And we did some things that were uncharacteristic at different times that led to some odd-man rushes against, which we have to be really mindful of, especially with their skill level that they have. … I think the message is we’ve got to play much better than we played in Game 5.

“Home ice means nothing. We figured that out. It’s more of our game has to be a little bit better.”

–Field Level Media

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