The Nashville Predators were the first ones to admit they committed penalties Tuesday night. What they did not understand was why more were not called against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Predators, who lost 3-1 before an announced crowd of 12,441 at the Sommet Center, took particular exception to three hits by the Canucks, only one of which was penalized. The other two actually left the Predators shorthanded on the ice – for seven minutes straight at one point – and the first of those shortened their bench as well when forward Scott Nichol was knocked from the contest with an upper body injury.
“I thought this league was supposed to cut down on this (crap),” Nashville captain Jason Arnott said. “One guy leaves his feet and another guy runs our guy from behind and we end up on the shorthanded side of it, and it’s unbelievable.
“All we keep hearing about is, ‘Watch the head shots. Watch the head shots.’ Well there was three of them out there (Tuesday) night and there were no calls. Nothing.”
Actually, Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler was assessed a five-minute major for boarding for his hit on defenseman Shea Weber with 2:36 to play in the second period. Weber, though, was given four minutes when his response was deemed worthy of a double-minor for roughing.
It was Arnott’s reaction to Alex Burrows’ open-ice hit on J.P. Dumont that earned the most severe rebuke and created the greatest disparity in on-ice personnel.
The Predators were forced to play shorthanded for seven consecutive minutes after Arnott chased down Burrows, dropped his gloves and wailed away as Burrows covered up on the ice. Referees gave Arnott two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
Burrows, who appeared to leave his feet with his elbow up when he hit Dumont, spent no time in the box for any part of that incident. He eventually sealed the outcome with an empty-net goal with 44 seconds remaining – assisted by Kesler.
“I jumped?” Burrows said. “The puck was in the air. I don’t want to injure the guy. I know the guy. … I was just trying to finish my checks out there.”
Similarly, Nashville ended up shorthanded after Nichol was injured.
Vancouver defenseman Rob Davison was given two minutes for roughing for the hit, which occurred in front Vancouver bench, but Predators’ defenseman Kevin Klein got four minutes (a double-minor for roughing) for his attempt to defend Nichol.
“Someone takes a cheap shot … we’re all teammates in here and we go to bat for each other,” Klein said. “You have to stick up for each other, and I think our team always does that. It’s nice to see.”
Predictably, the Canucks’ game-winning goal came on the power play. After they failed to score during 11 minutes with the man-advantage during the second period, they got one 24 seconds into a 4-on-3 at the start of the third period.
Yet there ultimately was little difference in penalties.
The Predators had 36 minutes on 11 violations, and the Canucks had 34 minutes on 10 calls. Radek Bonk scored Nashville’s goal at 11:03 of the first period, with five seconds remaining on a two-man advantage.
“The only thing I found special with calls in the game (is) we were not allowed to hit them,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “Every time we threw a good, strong, clean hit there was a scrum after. It is part of the game. It was a physical game.
“They took offense to some of the hits we threw.”
To say the least.
BRIEFLY: Dumont extended his team-leading points streak to six games with an assist on Bonk’s goal. Dumont has seven points (three goals, four assists) over that span and a team-high 21 assists for the season. … Bonk’s goal was just his second of the season and his first since Oct. 15, a span of 22 games. Both have been on the power play. … Klein’s double-minor tripled his penalty minutes for the season. Coming into the contest he had two in nine appearances. … Jordin Tootoo had played in every game this season and 49 straight dating back to last season but was scratched with a lower body injury which, according to coach Barry Trotz, he sustained in Monday’s loss at St. Louis. Tootoo had 14:21 of ice time – his most in 10 games – in that contest. … Both Tootoo and Nichol were considered day-to-day. Nothing specific about their injuries was revealed. … Nashville has been outscored 7-1 in two games against Vancouver this season and has scored more than two against the Canucks just once in the past seven meetings, a stretch which dates back to the 2006-07 season. … Dan Ellis was the Predators’ goalie for the first time in five games. He lost for the third straight time.
Vancouver (8:35) – Pavol Demitra (8). Assist: Kyle Wellwood (4).
Nashville (11:03) – Radek Bonk (2), PPG (5-on-3). Assists: Martin Erat (11), J.P. Dumont (21).
Vancouver (0:24) – Alexander Edler (2), PPG (4-on-3). Assists: Daniel Sedin (16), Kevin Bieksa (11).
Vancouver (19:16) – Alex Burrows (8), EN. Assists: Ryan Kessler (10).