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Cullen: Kesler taking over series; Canucks in control

Scott Cullen
5/6/2011 12:43:17 AM
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Ryan Kesler turned in another exceptional performance to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 win and a 3-1 series lead over the Nashville Predators.

Kesler was one of three Canucks to register a goal and two assists in the game, but the only one to register six shots on goal, score the game-winner and no forward in the game played more than Kesler's 23:40.

Kesler has back-to-back three-point games, the first time he's managed the feat since February, 2009.

Canucks defenceman Christian Ehrhoff was the second member of the three-point club, giving him nine for the postseason, a career-high in the playoffs and enough to lead all defencemen in scoring in this year's playoffs.

With an empty-net goal to ice the game, Henrik Sedin was the third Canucks to record three points. 

Sedin had one point in the previous seven games, so his offensive breakout is most encouraging for a Canucks team that has been successful despite a lack of production from the Sedins, yet know that they're not going to cruise through two more rounds of the playoffs without getting points from their top two scorers.

Nashville's had trouble generating shots at the Vancouver goal for much of this series, and it was no different in Game Four, when they were held to 21 shots on the Vancouver net.

Aside from a 46-shot explosion in their Game Two win, the Predators have averaged 23.7 shots per game, while allowing 35.0 Canucks shots in those three Vancouver wins. 

No matter how good the Predators think goaltender Pekka Rinne is, it's asking a lot for him to stop that so many more shots than Roberto Luongo, who is obivously no slouch in the Canucks' net.

Defenceman Cody Franson and right winger Joel Ward each had a goal and an assist for the Predators.  Ward, who scored 29 points in 80 regular season games, now has nine points in ten playoff games.

If Nashville is to have any hope of coming back in the series, they'll need more production from their top regular season scorers.  Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist, in particular, are both looking for their first points of the series, though Hornqvist did manage five shots on goal in Game Four, despite playing only 10:05.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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