Sometimes, either by choice or extenuating circumstances, you may not be able to show up for something you otherwise would.
Former Canuck Artem Chubarov never showed up to collect his car from the underground parking at GM place because he was in such a hurry to return to his home country of Russia. Marlon Brando did not show up to accept his Oscar for The Godfather at the 1973 Academy Awards because he wanted to protest the treatment of Native Americans in Hollywood. And for whatever reason, the Nashville Predators failed to show up whenever they were forced to kill off a penalty tonight.
On paper, the Predators should have dummied the Canucks. They outshot Vancouver by more than a 2-1 margin and controlled the flow of the game at even strength for most of the night. Unfortunately for them, the Canucks power play caught fire at exactly the right time thanks to stellar performances by Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and J.T. Miller. Jacob Markstrom made Tuesday night's stinker look like a distant memory, while Pekka Rinne, much like the team in front of him, struggled to show up on the PK, and was pulled in favour of Juuse Saros to start the third period.
Another person who was unable to show up and had to be quickly replaced tonight is Daniel Wagner, who is at a Sleater-Kinney concert with his wife for their anniversary. I will be filling in tonight, so that Daniel doesn't have to Hurry On Home and readers of PITB will not be forced to wait One More Hour for their postgame coverage.
If I were Daniel Wagner, I would probably make even more Sleater-Kinney references than the two I just made, not only because he is more familiar with them, but because he's frankly much more clever in that way than I am. But I am not Daniel Wagner. He's away right now. He was able to get the night off because I watched this game.
- The Canucks made a couple of changes to their lineup tonight. Zack MacEwen made his first appearance of the season, starting alongside Bo Horvat and J.T Miller. MacEwen had a quiet game, registering one hit in 8:53 of ice-time. The Miller-Horvat-MacEwen combo got absolutely throttled tonight in terms of shot-share at even-strength, but it would be unfair to single out MacEwen for that. At 5-on-5 tonight, the whole team was like me on my 19th birthday: they struggled to take shots.
- Tyler Graovac drew in for Sven Baertschi tonight, which was somewhat disappointing from a storytelling perspective. Sven's demotion and subsequent re-integration into the lineup was one of the more compelling storylines this year, so it's a shame to see him have to sit for a game just as the redemption arc was picking up steam. It felt a bit like when the actress who played Laurie on That '70s Show had to be replaced right as she married Fez so he could get his green card. Much like the show's writers, the Canucks tried to keep the story going by having Graovac score a goal, but did they really expect us not to notice that it was a different person?
- The Lotto Line had another impressive offensive performance, with all three of Pettersson, Boeser, and Miller each putting up multi-point games. While Pettersson led the trio in points with three, Miller led in a more obscure category: goals he appeared to have scored. Miller had to clarify twice tonight that he did not, in fact, touch the puck before it went in. A hot mic even picked up his shouts of "I didn't touch it" as he went skated to the bench to celebrate the 5-2 goal that was eventually credited to Bo Horvat.
- Did I mention how bad the Predators PK was tonight? The team spent roughly as much time at 5-on-4 as Ken Watanabe's character spent in dream limbo at the end of Inception, and coincidentally also chased the play as if they were roughly as old as Ken Watanabe's character was after spending all that time in dream limbo in Inception. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to come away with a happy ending, as they allowed a goal on five of eight shots on the PK. The Canucks obviously deserve credit for their performance on the man advantage tonight, but Pekka Rinne and the Preds' penalty killers did everything they could to make the Canucks' power play look good, which was very generous of them.
- While the PP was the big story tonight, the real hero of tonight's game was Jacob Markstrom, who stopped a whopping 45 of 48 shots and came away with a .938 save percentage on the night. He looked like a completely different goaltender from the one we saw two nights ago, almost as if he had been replaced midseason like Laurie in That '70s Show; or had aged in reverse, like Ken Watanabe after leaving dream limbo in Inception. These are the only two pieces of pop culture I have ever consumed, apparently.
- Travis Green deserves some credit for splitting up his defense pairings tonight after the Edler-Myers pair had struggled through much of the month of November. Unfortunately, the experiment didn't really seem to pay off, as both Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn had their worst games as members of the Canucks after being paired with one another. Even on a night when only one Canucks player had a 5-on-5 shot share above 40%, the Benn-Myers pairing was notably bad. They were on the ice for both of Nashville's even strength goals and the team generated only four shot attempts while they were on the ice, while somehow managing to allow 25 shot attempts against. I haven't seen a ratio like that since I looked at one of Andrew Walker's tweets.
- It was nice to see Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson each get a goal tonight. Both players have battled bad puck luck for much of the season in spite of strong play. Horvat's came on the man advantage and Pearson's was an empty-netter, but both players deserved some good fortune after their struggles. Here's hoping those goals translate into increased confidence at five-on-five, where the Canucks could still use their help.
- Stick taps to Dan Murphy, who celebrated twenty years with Sportnet tonight. The broadcast aired a lovely tribute to Dan that featured Henrik Sedin and Kevin Bieksa, which is fitting for someone who has come to be nearly as synonymous with Vancouver hockey in the 21st century as those players. Over a TV career that's spanned longer than the existence of the Weimar Republic, Murph has been an integral part of the Canucks' broadcast and has been incredibly supportive towards countless young hockey journalists in Vancouver. He also looks great. After 20 years on TV, you'd generally expect somebody to look like Ken Watanabe at the end of Inception, but not Dan. That's my last one, I promise.