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Canucks out to spark sputtering offence, close out Preds in Game 6


The Vancouver Canucks are on the cusp of reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019-20 as they hold a 3-2 lead over the Nashville Predators with a chance to close out the series on Friday night.

The Pacific Division winners were the sixth-highest scoring team during the regular season, averaging 3.40 goals per game with a plus-56 goal differential. However, the Canucks have struggled to find their scoring touch thus far in the playoffs, averaging 2.40 goals per game (12 total) through five games against the Predators. That output is tied with two other teams for the third-lowest in the playoffs (Predators, New York Islanders), just ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs (1.80 G/GP) and Washington Capitals (1.75 G/GP).

The Canucks have been outshot in all but one game in the series, including a 30-12 advantage for the Predators in Game 3. In total, Nashville has outshot Vancouver 122-92 through five games.

The Canucks’ 92 shots on goal are the second-lowest total through five games of a playoff series since 1960. The 1998 Washington Capitals fired 90 shots on net in the Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators, a series they won in five games. Vancouver has been held to two or fewer goals three times in five games.

“I think there’s a lot to build on,” Canucks forward Sam Lafferty told “The intensity is there; the effort is there. Overall, for the most part, the execution is there. It’s just, obviously, we know it’s going to be tough to close these guys out. They’re a good team, and they’re fighting for their lives. We know it’s going to be really hard.”

The power play has been one of the biggest issues for the Canucks, going just 2-for-13 (15.4 per cent) with the man advantage after scoring on 22.7 per cent of their opportunities in the regular season. 

“Our power play was awful,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said after a 2-1 loss in Game 5. “We have to look in the mirror as a group. We could have been a factor in the game, and we weren’t. A lot of emotion in the game. They were resilient.

“The margins are obviously close, and every little mistake is going to cost you this time of year. It is what it is. It’s going to be a hard-fought series. We didn’t think coming in that it was going to be a five-gamer. And [the Predators] played well tonight.”

Offensive issues are not new to the Canucks, as the club struggled to score in the second half of the season. Vancouver averaged 3.79 goals per game prior to the All-Star break but just 2.81 in the second half of the season.

Head coach Rick Tocchet says patience will be key as the team tries to balance finding their offensive stride while minimizing risk.

“You have to be comfortable in a tight game,” he said. “I think that’s really important. If it’s 0-0 late in the game, even if it’s 1-0 going into the third, I think you’ve got to be very comfortable playing in that and just bide your time for your chances. I think sometimes when you want to close out, you push the envelope too much. The next thing you know you’re giving up odd-man rushes, power plays, things like that.”

Predators coach Andrew Brunette praised his team’s resilience amidst the tough, low-scoring series.

“It’s been a tough series to create a whole lot, but they stuck with it, and the message was it might take forever to get it, but keep pounding on the door, and I thought they did a really good job just staying true to themselves."

Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night in Nashville, with a possible Game 7 set for Sunday if Nashville is able to extend the series once again.