Pair of offensive stars help Predators stay in series

Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 12:06am

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Barry Trotz was not particular.

The Nashville Predators coach said Friday that he needed somebody — anybody — to emerge as an offensive hero in Game 5 of his team’s Western Conference semifinal series with the Vancouver Canucks.

He got two.

David Legwand and Joel Ward each scored two goals as the Predators avoided elimination with a 4-3 victory Saturday before a sellout crowd of 18,860 at Rogers Arena.

The series returns to Nashville for Game 6 (7 p.m. Monday) with Vancouver still in front three games to two.

“That’s just kind of the way it’s been — it’s been different guys and it’s been hard for teams to really focus in on a line or two when you’re getting that from different lines,” center Mike Fisher said. “When we’re winning, that’s happening. We need to keep doing that,

“Those guys have been really good all series.”

Legwand and Ward doubled the number of Nashville players with multi-goal games this postseason. Fisher and Nick Spaling each did it against Anaheim — likewise, in each case, a Predators’ victory. Their combined effort also doubled the number of goals they had scored in any of the previous games in the series.

“There was a lot of good things that happened for us [Saturday] night and we just stuck with it,” Trotz said. “Our team came into the game with the right approach, and I think as the game evolved you have to have some success. [Ward and Legwand] were pretty good.”

Ward got both of his goals in a span of 4:33 early in third period and gave the Predators their first two-goal lead of the series.

Nashville’s most consistent offensive performer this postseason recorded at least a point for the eighth time in 10 postseason contests and tied three others — all from the Eastern Conference — for the lead in playoff goals (seven). His 12 points are one behind Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis for the playoff lead.

“I was just getting some good bounces and having a fun time,” Ward said. “It’s a great time of year. I’m just trying to enjoy it and have a lot of fun.

Legwand gave the Predators a 1-0 lead when he scored shorthanded — with an assist from Ward — 3:42 into the contest. It was his second shorthanded goal in three games and made him the first Nashville player ever with more than one in a single postseason.

The second was even less likely. He flipped a puck over the back of the Vancouver net and had it deflect in off defenseman Alexander Edler. That tied it 2-2 n the opening minute of the second

The two goals gave Legwand five this postseason, which is one more than he had in all of his previous playoff appearances (25 games) prior to this season.

“When you’re down 2-1 after one, the life kind of gets sucked out of you a little,” Legwand said. “We came out with a little emotion and we worked hard. … It was a fortunate bounce [on the second goal].”

The Canucks promptly answered Legwand’s first as Raffi Torres tied it 2:17 later. Before the first intermission, they had the lead on the first of two by Kesler, a truly consistent offensive force in the series who has five goals in the last three games.

They had only a limited response for Ward’s two, though.

Kesler continued his offensive tear and got his team back within one with 3:46 to play. The Canucks got six more shots on net after that (they outshot the Predators 34-23 for the game) but could not get another one past goalie Pekka Rinne.

“We seem to be pretty comfortable playing these tight games,” Rinne said. “Obviously, scoring four goals … it’s more than you can ask for and we won the game.”

To have two players produce all those goals, in fact, was even more than their coach had asked.

“It’s different guys every time,” captain Shea Weber said. “… Legwand got two goals. Ward got two goals.

“Who knows who’s going to get a couple of those the next time?”

1 Comment on this post:

By: pepaw on 5/8/11 at 8:56

Congrd's to the Pred's. They looked and played with a more confident game plan. Confidence and hard ply will give them the edge they'll need to win this series.
Without it, not much of a chance. Go Pred's.