1) The Vancouver Canucks needed Tuesday's win. They needed it to snap their four game (0-3-1) losing streak and they needed it for their psyche, too. You can only tell yourself you're playing well and doing the right things so many times if you continue to come up a goal short. And at 1-1 after 40 minutes, Tuesday's game with Nashville looked and felt like so many other games the Canucks have been involved in of late -- and you know how those ended. Tuesday's game could easily have gone either way over the final frame, but to their credit the Canucks made sure it swung in their favour with a four-goal outburst that allowed the team to taste victory for the first time since a 5-2 win in San Jose on November 2nd. The impressive third period was aided by a pair of power play goals and came after the Predators had tilted the ice in the second period outshooting the Canucks 19-7. It seemed the Preds had momentum after 40 minutes and it was left to be seen if they could carry it over into the third. Fed up with losing, the Canucks rose to the challenge and did what they had to do to grind out the win outshooting the Preds 11-10 in the final period and outscoring them 4-2.
2) Adam Gaudette had his best game of the season scoring a third period power play goal and drawing an assist on Tanner Pearson's first of two goals on the night. With Jay Beagle out and Brandon Sutter leaving the game after just three shifts, Gaudette was one of three natural centres left in the Canucks line-up. In 12:15 of ice, Gaudette managed to leave his mark on the hockey game. After hitting the post from the slot in a scoreless first period, he sprung Pearson on the left side on a power play rush early in the second finding his way onto the scoresheet with a primary assist. Gaudette then put the Canucks in front for good when he pounced on a rebound on a third period power play tucking the puck past Pekka Rinne at 10:59 to break a 2-2 tie. It was Gaudette's first multi-point game of the season and left him with 2+4=6 in the nine NHL games he's played so far this season. It also moves him into a share of the team lead for scoring in November with five points (tied with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and JT Miller) despite playing one less game and logging considerably less ice time than the others. It's clear Gaudette is one of the best 12 forwards in the Canucks system and should be in the line-up every night even when injured players find their way back into uniform.
3) Even through the offensive struggles of the past week, the Canucks power play has remained productive. And then Tuesday it went off. The Canucks were a perfect three for three with the man-advantage scoring on three of their four power play shots against the Predators. It was the third time this season the Canucks have scored three or more power play goals in a game. They struck for three against Detroit on October 15th, scored four in Los Angeles on October 30th and on Tuesday feasted on the Preds penalty killing. Even in losses in Chicago and against New Jersey recently, the power play had produced. Add it all up and the Canucks have scored an NHL-leading 19 power play goals in 19 games. They won't remain on a power play goal per game pace over the balance of the season, but they certainly appear to be on their way to speeding past the 43 power play goals they produced a year ago. And the biggest thing about Tuesday's output was the fact the second unit struck for two of the three markers. It's great to have a top unit that can win hockey games. It's even better to have options as the Canucks did against the Preds.
4) With no Beagle and Sutter to lean on late in a tight game, Travis Green had no choice but to turn to some of his younger players to see if they could protect the lead. The coach rode Bo Horvat for 11:48 of the third period including a 2:12 shift that ended when Tanner Pearson sealed the victory into the empty net. Horvat played a career-high 27:06 on the night. His previous career-high was 25:46 in a shootout loss in Colorado late last season. That game included overtime. Horvat's previous high for a three period game was 25:32 against Dallas last season. When Filip Forsberg scored to cut the Canucks lead to 4-3 with 5:34 remaining, Horvat basically played the rest of the game. Incredibly, he logged 4:10 of the final 4:52. He had a 1:02 shift and then spend five seconds on the bench. He went back out for a 56 second shift followed by 36 seconds of rest. Then came his epic 2:12 shift with the Preds buzzing with the extra attacker which lasted until the Canucks scored with seven seconds remaining in the game. It wasn't just Horvat, however. Tanner Pearson played 8:19 of the third period, Elias Pettersson saw 7:16, Brock Boeser logged 7:02, JT Miller skated 6:50 of the final frame and even Jake Virtanen was used for 5:28 of the third. It was a terrific test for players not always tasked with protecting leads and they found a way to get the job done.
5) Elias Pettersson got what he wanted for his birthday. Not only did he score a pair of goals -- including the game winner -- his team found a way to snap out of its funk. Pettersson hadn't played poorly during the slump, but like his team he was having trouble generating offense. In the previous four games, he hadn't scored and had just one assist on a JT Miller goal in Chicago last Thursday. In Sunday's 2-1 loss to New Jersey, Pettersson fanned on a glorious scoring chance in the second period and looked skyward in disbelief as he failed to convert. He knew the difference that one goal could have meant to the outcome for his hockey club. Celebrating his 21st birthday on Tuesday with his parents and grandparents in attendance, Pettersson delivered in a big way breaking a 1-1 tie with a brilliant solo effort on a third period power play and then converted a loose puck off the side of the crease for the eventual game winner that put the Canucks up 4-2. He's just too talented to be kept down for long, so it seemed like a matter of time before he cashed in. The last time he has scored, he has scored twice (he also had a pair in San Jose 10 days ago). With eight on the season through 19 games, Pettersson now has a share of the team goal-scoring lead with Brock Boeser and JT Miller. All three of them are on a 35-goal pace. The Canucks would take that in a heartbeat.