Vancouver Canucks beat Nashville Predators 2-1 to regain series lead

J.T. Miller had a goal and assist as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Nashville Predators 2-1 to re-take the lead in their first-round playoff series. 

Brock Boeser also scored for the Canucks and Quinn Hughes contributed a pair of helpers. 

Luke Evangelista replied for Nashville late in the third period, scoring his first career playoff goal. 

Juuse Saros stopped 10 of 12 shots for the Predators. The 12 shots was a franchise low for the Canucks.

Casey DeSmith had 30 saves for Vancouver in his second game of the post-season after taking over for all-star goalie Thatcher Demko, who is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. 

The Canucks are now up 2-1 in the best-of-seven matchup.

A goalie lets a puck into a hockey net.
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) lets a Vancouver Canucks shot on goal get past for a score during the first period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Friday, April 26, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/The Associated Press)

Vancouver leaned hard on special teams for the win, going 2-for-3 on the power play and killing off all five penalties it faced.

The Predators overwhelmed the visitors early, penning the Canucks in their own zone for several minutes at a time.

Vancouver was called for two penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game, and weathered both, thanks in part to DeSmith. The netminder denied Ryan O’Reilly at the 5:40 mark, using his paddle to send a speedy wrist shot up and out of the way. 

Midway through the frame, DeSmith drew a penalty when he was levelled by Michael McCarron behind the net. 

The Canucks’ power play got to work, dishing the puck around the perimeter and looking for the right opportunity. Hughes connected with Miller and the forward blasted a shot past Saros from above the faceoff circle, scoring on Vancouver’s first recorded shot of the game 13:23 into the first.

Vancouver went up 2-0 thanks to another man advantage early in the second when Roman Josi was sent to the box for tripping. 

Stationed near the boards, Miller sliced a pass to Boeser, who directed it in from the top of the crease at the 4:33 mark. 

Two hockey players spar.
Vancouver Canucks centre Sam Lafferty (18) tries to get the puck past Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan McDonagh (27) during the first period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Friday, April 26, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (George Walker IV/The Associated Press)

The Predators continued to press but DeSmith held strong. 

Just over three minutes into the third, the goalie turned away a wrist shot by McCarron, only to see it bounce off Vancouver defenceman Ian Cole in the crease. DeSmith kicked out his right leg into the splits and kept the puck out of his net. 

Nashville had a prime opportunity to eat into the deficit midway through the third when the visitors went down two men for 21 seconds. Boeser had been called for tripping, and late in the penalty kill, Nikita Zadorov sent a puck up and over the glass. 

O’Reilly got a chance from the side of the crease but sent his shot into the head of Vancouver defenceman Ian Cole and the puck pinged up and over the net. 

Evangelista beat DeSmith 16:48 into the final frame, whipping a wrist shot on net from the faceoff circle as he fell to his knees to make it 2-1. 

The Predators pulled Saros with just under two minutes left on the game clock in favour of the extra attacker, but couldn’t score the equalizer. 

Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers returned to the lineup after missing Game 2 with the flu. Noah Juulsen, who slotted in for Myers, was a healthy scratch. 

The Predators have rolled out the same players for the first three games of the series, but saw defenceman Spencer Stastney leave the game with an upper-body injury after getting hit by Vancouver’s Dakota Joshua midway through the first period.

Hughes registered his 19th and 20th career playoff points and became the third player in Canucks history to collect at least 20 points in his first 20 playoff games. Trevor Linden and Thomas Gradin completed the feat first, with each putting up 21 points in their first 20 post-season appearances. 

Game 4 is set to go Sunday in Nashville.

Hockey players racing.
Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan McDonagh (27) and Vancouver Canucks centre J.T. Miller (9) chase a loose puck during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Friday, April 26, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. The Canucks won 2-1. (George Walker IV/The Associated Press)


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