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Canucks come through with comeback win over Predators in Game 1

Dakota Joshua scored twice as the Vancouver Canucks put together a three-goal third period to beat the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Vancouver Canucks took on the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round series in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Stanley Cup Playoff hockey returned to Vancouver on Sunday night and was welcomed by twirling towels and a roaring crowd.

The crowd only grew louder when the Canucks came out with a heavy, physical first period, throwing a total of 20 hits, led by Dakota Joshua's four hits. The loudest cheers of all came when Thatcher Demko made a brilliant right pad save, sliding to his right in a full split to rob former Canuck Anthony Beauvillier.

But the starch was taken out of the Canucks and the crowd when Jason Zucker opened the scoring 16:15 into the first period. Left open at the right boards off a faceoff, Zucker sent a shot through traffic that beat Thatcher Demko on the short side. 

As much as the Canucks looked dangerous, they only had four shots in the first, as they too often looked for the perfect play instead of putting the puck on net. Ultimately, it was an ideal period for the Predators.

The Canucks responded the way they needed to in the second period, getting a crucial goal from their big trade acquisition, Elias Lindholm. A smooth breakout from Nikita Zadorov and Dakota Joshua sent Lindholm flying down the left wing and he unleashed a wristshot that fooled Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, sneaking just under his blocker.

The Predators once again broke the tie, this time on the power play. Some crisp passing gave Ryan O'Reilly an open shot from the left faceoff circle and he sniped past Demko. Luke Evangelista, looking for the tip, made contact with Demko's glove as reached for the puck and Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet took a long look but ultimately chose not to challenge. The puck was arguably past Demko already when the contact was made.

That sent the Canucks into the second intermission down by a goal. There was a nervous energy in the building, as fans wondered if the Canucks' return to the postseason would go sideways so soon. 

That nervous energy erupted into deafening cheers in the third period when the Canucks scored two quick goals to take the lead.

It started with the team's leader, captain Quinn Hughes, because how could it start with anyone else? Nothing materialized from a promising rush by Brock Boeser but he knew just who to feed the puck. With J.T. Miller providing the screen, Hughes slung the puck from the point and got a tip from Pius Suter to send the puck past Saros to tie the game.

12 seconds later, the third line came up with the go-ahead goal. Lindholm crashed in on the forecheck to free up the puck and Conor Garland sent that loose puck in front to Dakota Joshua. The big man, who had been playing a hard game all night, showed his soft hands, corralling the puck and dragging it in towards his body before suddenly pushing the shot back against the grain to beat Saros. 

From there, the Canucks did what they've done all season: they closed out the game. 

The Canucks pressured the puck aggressively up ice to prevent the Predators from gaining the offensive zone. Whenever they did, Demko was there to make the save. Then, to ice the game, Joshua hit the Predators' empty net from his own zone. 

By the end of the game, there was no more nervous energy. Just pure playoff joy. 


Want a more in-depth recap of the game? Read the I Watched This Game feature. Don't forget to follow @passittobulis on X/Twitter to stay updated on the Canucks throughout the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.