Fresh off an energizing 6-2 home win against the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend, the Vancouver Canucks will hit the road for a clash with the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
The Canucks haven’t had much to cheer about this season, but no matter how bad things get, they have come to realize they can at least count on forward Elias Pettersson.
“A multi-talented guy,” Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet said of the 24-year-old rising star. “I gave him an ‘A’ and he has started to learn to be a leader.”
The Canucks enter the contest trying to salvage a disappointing season that has them well back in the Pacific Division standings.
Pettersson was masterful against the Flyers, scoring two goals to go along with three assists as the Canucks halted a three-game losing streak.
Anthony Beauvillier displayed his soft hands, scoring two goals off deflections from the front of the net. He opened the scoring at 14:24 of the first period and scored again in the second, tipping in a point shot by Pettersson that went off the post to make it 3-1.
Andrei Kuzmenko and Phillip Di Giuseppe also scored, while defenseman Luke Schenn dished out three assists.
Pettersson scored both of his goals into empty nets, but it was his playmaking skills on Kuzmenko’s 24th goal of the season in the second that showcased his talent.
The slick Swede did all the heavy lifting on the goal, dancing out of the corner boards and twisting and turning through a number of Flyers defenders before passing cross-ice to Schenn, who quickly fed Kuzmenko at the side of the net for the tip-in.
“They (the Flyers) were tired, so I don’t think they had their best setup,” Pettersson said of the goal. “They were out there for a long time, but I got some space.
“I just play with instincts and don’t think too much out there and just try to find my teammates.”
Pettersson posted his third five-point night of the season. He has 71 points (27 goals, 44 assists) in 54 games.
Tocchet is trying to simplify Pettersson’s game, though, by getting him to skate more north and south with the puck instead of moving sideways so often.
“I love the guy, but there are times when you can’t hit home runs all the time,” Tocchet said.
In their most recent game, the Predators rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit but suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday when forward Ryan Hartman scored with just 21 seconds remaining.
Hartman tipped Jonas Brodin’s shot past Nashville goalie Juuse Saros for the game-winner just 26 seconds after Predators forward Nino Niederreiter had tied it.
“Whether we were up or down, you’ve got to be prepared mentally to play through certain situations,” Nashville coach John Hynes said.
Tommy Novak scored his third goal in two games and had two assists for the Predators, who have lost three of four.
The Predators looked sluggish at times against the Wild after recording a 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers the day before.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Niederreiter said. “You need every point you can get this time of year and we definitely battled hard and gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game. But it’s tough to fall short.”
–Field Level Media