Nashville Predators v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

Sedins look to get on track while Predators hope to extend series on the road

Tonight’s lone game in the playoffs takes place in Vancouver where the Canucks look to finish off the Nashville Predators in Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, Versus). Vancouver’s slowly taken control of this series thanks to the work of Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo. Kesler’s work in scoring big goals in Games 3 and 4 have helped them swing momentum in their favor. Luongo’s play in goal has managed to have him outduel Pekka Rinne in this series and that’s saying a lot given how great Rinne has looked.

A couple of guys having a hard time in this series just happen to be related. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin aren’t quite looking like their MVP-like selves. Henrik Sedin has a goal and two assists while Daniel Sedin has just two assists. Compared to Kesler’s three goals and four assists, their efforts aren’t looking nearly as good. Having to deal with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter shift in and shift out probably has a lot more to do with that than anything else. Getting them going tonight wouldn’t be the worst idea.

For Nashville, they’re already going without Steve Sullivan and now they’ll be without checking forward extraordinaire Jerred Smithson. In Smithson’s place will be veteran power forward J.P. Dumont as he’ll hope his savvy and experience will help the Predators overcome the Canucks stifling defense and attack. The Predators just flat out need goals to stay involved in this series and the combination of injuries and Luongo in goal won’t make that any easier.

If Vancouver is able to lock up the series, it’ll mark their first appearance in the Western Conference finals since 1994 when they went to the Stanley Cup finals and ultimately lost to the New York Rangers in seven games. Nashville wants to put Vancouver in the same uncomfortable position the Blackhawks put them in in the first round and force a Game 7. They’ll need to win one now and send it back to Nashville to make that happen though. With how things are shaking out lately, confidence isn’t very high that that will happen.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”