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Predators level first-round playoff series with 4-1 victory over Canucks

Series shifts to Nashville for Game 3 on Friday
Nashville Predators’ Jeremy Lauzon, front left, collides with Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) as Phillip Di Giuseppe (34) and Teddy Blueger (53) defend during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Filip Forsberg scored and had an assist, and the Nashville Predators earned a 4-1 win over the host Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Tuesday.

Anthony Beauvillier — a former Canuck — added a goal and a helper for the Preds, who levelled the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Colton Sissons and Kiefer Sherwood also found the back of the net for Nashville, while Juuse Saros made 17 saves.

Bruising defenceman Nikita Zadorov replied for a Vancouver side that struggled to get shots on net and experienced a series of unlucky bounces.

The Canucks were playing without all-star goalie Thatcher Demko, who was ruled out with an undisclosed injury earlier on Tuesday.

Casey DeSmith took over in net and stopped 12 of 15 shots.

The enthusiastic crowd at Rogers Arena erupted with chants of “Let’s go Case-y!” moments after the puck dropped.

They were quickly quieted.

Forsberg sent a long shot flying from inside the blue line and Beauvillier, stationed above the hash marks, deflected it in past an out-of-position DeSmith to put the Predators up 1-0 just 1:14 into the game.

Beauvillier started the season in Vancouver before the Canucks dealt him to the Blackhawks to shed salary in November. Chicago then sent the left-winger to Nashville in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick ahead of the NHL trade deadline in March.

The Canucks saw three power plays across the first period Tuesday but struggled to get shots on net.

Elias Pettersson came painfully close to levelling the score on a man advantage in the dying seconds of the opening frame.

Saros slid over to stop Quinn Hughes as he powered toward the net, but the defenceman sliced a pass to Pettersson and the Swedish centre blasted a shot at the empty net, only to see the puck glance off the outside of the post. Pettersson dropped to his knees in apparent disappointment.

Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play Tuesday.

The Preds took a two-goal lead midway through the second when Forsberg collected a pass from Nyquist, stickhandled his way toward the Canucks’ net and fired a shot past DeSmith to make it 2-0 at the 7:29 mark.

Ninety-five seconds later, the visitors took a three-goal lead.

READ MORE: Canucks star goalie Thatcher Demko unavailable for Game 2: Coach

DeSmith stopped a shot from Beauvillier but couldn’t control the rebound and the puck popped out to Sissons, who batted it in past the netminder.

Zadorov cut the deficit to 3-1 with less than five minutes to go in the second. His shot from above the faceoff circle hit the stick of Nashville’s Mark Jankowski in front of the net and the puck sailed in over Saros’ right shoulder.

The Canucks ended the period with yet another close call.

With 27 seconds to go, Vancouver’s J.T. Miller unleashed a blast from near the boards and, while Saros got a piece of the shot, it bounced out, hitting the skate of Nashville defenceman Alexandre Carrier before ricocheting off the inside of the post.

The home side outshot the Predators 6-4 across the third but couldn’t get a puck across the goal line.

Vancouver pulled DeSmith in favour of an extra attacker with just over two minutes left on the game clock.

Sherwood beat Hughes to a loose puck along the boards and put a shot into the empty net 18:07 into the third period.


In addition to Demko, the Canucks were missing a key piece on defence with Tyler Myers out of the lineup. The big blue liner’s absence was a surprise as he did not appear to pick up any injuries in Game 1. Noah Juulsen took his spot in the lineup Tuesday.


The series shifts to Nashville for Game 3 on Friday.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press