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Friday May 6, 2011 8:12 pm

Ryan Kesler leading Canucks to 3-1 series lead




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL, Playoffs,

Ryan KeslerThe Vancouver Canucks played to a couple of firsts on Thursday night. Their 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators was their first win by more than a goal since April 13th. It was their first game in the series in which they scored a goal in the first period. Captain Henrik Sedin scored his first goal of the playoffs (an empty net freebie). It was also their first game of the series in which it felt like the Canucks were actually building momentum towards something.

The Canucks have held the lead six different times in their four games against the Predators, and have given it back four times, including twice in Game 4. Yet they hold a 3-1 series lead. For most teams, that would be a comfortable cushion, but coming off a near-disaster like they did against Chicago, Vancouver can’t afford to let up the pressure and should be looking to dominate Nashville in Game 5 on Saturday night at home.

Ryan Kesler has been a one-man wrecking crew in the series, with six points in his last three games, including the game winners in the previous two. He’s scoring, setting other guys up and drawing penalties. Maybe the key to stopping this sudden Vancouver onslaught is to stop Kessler from having his way on the ice. Or maybe the Predators, who have scored just six goals in four games, need to start finding the net themselves.

Roberto Luongo has also stepped up his game in a way nobody expected. He has a .949 save percentage in the series. His Game 2 loss came in response to a 46-shot barrage in which few goalies would have stood tall. This is the Canuck team that we all expected to see two weeks ago. They arrived late, but they’re here now. Don’t be surprised if and when they punch their ticket to the Western Conference Final this weekend.

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