The Kraken (39-24-7, 85 points), Jets (40-29-3, 83 points), Flames (32-25-15, 79 points) and Predators (35-26-8, 78 points) are all in action – including a head-to-head tilt between Seattle and Nashville – as the Wild Card race in the Western Conference heats up.
Seattle (70 GP) holds two games in hand on both Winnipeg (72 GP) and Calgary (72 GP), while Nashville is set to contest its 70th contest.
The Kraken, already with 12 more wins than their inaugural campaign (27-49-6, 60 points), can become the first franchise in NHL history to produce a 27-point improvement from its first-ever season to its second.
Winnipeg begins its Southern California road trip in Anaheim before travelling to Los Angeles on Saturday and San Jose on March 28.
The Jets have found themselves within the Western Conference’s playoff picture for majority of the 2022-23 campaign (152 of 167 days; 91%). They are one of five Western Conference clubs in that position for at least 90 percent of the season: Dallas (166 of 167: 99.4%), Vegas (163 of 167: 97.6%), Seattle (157 of 167: 94%) and Los Angeles (154 of 167: 92.2%).
Vancouver Canucks goalie Arturs Silovs makes a save against the Nashville Predators during the second period. (Rich Lam/The Canadian Press via AP)
By Associated Press, March 7, 2023
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Elias Pettersson scored the only goal in the shootout and the Vancouver Canucks (26-32-5) beat the Nashville Predators (31-23-7) 4-3 on Monday night.
Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin and Dakota Joshua had goals in regulation for the Canucks, who recovered after giving up a two-goal lead in the third period to get their third win in four games. Arturs Silovs stopped 29 shots through overtime.
“I didn’t think we had our legs but we hung in there,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said, noting that his group needs to know they can’t make bad passes or other costly mistakes when they aren’t at the top of their game.
“It’s actually a great learning experience. It really is. That’s what I told the players: if you don’t have it, make sure that you don’t hurt the team and I think that’s a learning experience.”
Luke Evangelista scored twice in the third period to tie the score, and Colton Sissons also had a goal for the Predators, who lost for the second time in seven games (5-1-1). Jeremy Lauzon had two assists and Juuse Saros had 26 saves.
“I thought it was a hard-fought battle,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “Both teams worked, they had pushes, we had pushes and I’m glad that we got a point out of the game because all those little points matter.”
After Pettersson put a shot through Saros’ legs on Vancouver’s attempt in the third round of the shootout, Silovs denied Nashville’s Tommy Novak to secure the win.
“For sure, pressure is on,” said Silovs, a 21-year-old Latvian goalie. “You’re thinking I have to make a save and win the game.”
Pettersson nearly ended the game 59 seconds into overtime, sending a backhanded shot off the post.
Evangelista, a 21-year-old Toronto native playing in his fourth NHL game, scored his first two career goals 8:24 apart in the third to tie the score with 3:05 left.
“A lot of shock. I think pretty big relief,” he said. “I had a lot of chances and I just wasn’t able to bury so to finally see one go in the net was a big relief, so it was pretty calming.”
First, he got the rebound of Kiefer Sherwood’s shot and delivered it into the back of Vancouver’s net to pull the Predators within one at 8:31 of the third. Then, after a bad clearing attempt by Vancouver defenseman Guillaume Brisebois, the Predators’ Tyson Barrie fired a shot from above the faceoff circle and Evangelista tipped it in for his second goal of the game to tie it 3-3.
Pettersson started the scoring as he got a pass from Andrei Kuzmenko and waited patiently at the faceoff dot for his moment before firing a shot up and over Saros’ shoulder 4:31 into the first period.
For Pettersson, it was his 30th goal of the season and his 300th regular season point. It came in his 306th career game, making him the second-fastest player in Canucks’ history to achieve the feat behind only Pavel Bure (246).
“That’s obviously something I’m very happy with,” Pettersson said. “But (I’ve got to) keep going and reach more points.”
The Canucks tied it just 24 seconds later as Jeremy Lauzon fired a shot from the top of the circle and Cole Smith tipped it, sending the puck ricocheting off the post. The rebound hit Silovs in the skate before Sissons tapped it into the open net from the top of the crease for his 11th.
Podkolzin gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead with 9:04 left in the first as he deflected Kyle Burroughs’ long shot from inside the blue line up and over Saros’ blocker.
Joshua pushed the Canucks lead to 3-1 at 5:43 of the third as he got a backward pass from Nils Aman in the slot and sent a shot through Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s legs and in for his ninth.
Predators: At Arizona on Thursday night in the fourth of a six-game trip.
Canucks: Host Anaheim on Wednesday night in the fourth of a six-game homestand.