The Canucks came away with a 1-0 win, thanks in large part to a great defensive game from everyone involved, limiting the Predators to only 20 shots and keeping their real scoring chances to a serviceable number, so Roberto Luongo could make all the saves necessary for the win.
The Predators were relying quite heavily on their goaltender, Pekka Rinne, all game and he was absolutely stellar in the loss, making 29 saves of his own, really keeping his side in it for the whole 60 minutes.
So, with the shutout, Luongo picks up another 4 points in the pool, while the only other player in the pool that picked up a point in this game was Kevin Bieksa, he had an assist on the only goal of the game.
Since it was only night one of round two, I can easily pick out the five teams that had the Bieksa/Luongo combination on their team, picking up the maximum 5 points from last night's action.
The Preds were able to welcome back their Box 1 representation in the pool on Thursday night, as Martin Erat returned to their line-up from an upper-body injury, widely speculated to be a concussion, but that won't be confirmed or denied until after the playoffs, I'm sure. Nevertheless, Erat did return, but his return didn't bear much fruit, since the Predators were shutout. He will be a player to watch in this season, since he has played well against the Canucks all year.
With all that being said, there are no revelations in the Game-Winning Goals department, as Christopher Higgins was the goal scorer for the Canucks, a non-pool player, taking away bonus points from teams that could desperately use them.
I'm hoping for a bit more luck in the second night's worth of action on Friday night, since the bonus points are one of the best things to write about in this pool.
Our leaders remain at 10 each, while the unlucky basement dwellers in this column only have 3 each.
What are we to be expecting in Game One of the Lightning and Capitals series? If I had to guess, I would say that the Lightning, fresh off their Game Seven victory over the Penguins, should still have a lot of confidence in their offense to give the defensive-minded Capitals a good runaround. The Capitals may be at home, but playing in hostile environments is something the Lightning will have to do, if they continue on in these playoffs, I think they'll be getting used to it.
If the Lightning are to win this one, I'd be looking at Martin St. Louis to have a great game and lead the way, while Jason Arnott would be my clutch pick for the Caps, as he'll be leaned upon in either end to help the team pull out a Game One win.
The Red Wings and Sharks will renew playoff hostilities on Friday night with Game One of their second round series going in the Shark Tank (HP Pavilion) in San Jose. If the Red Wings are as healthy as we are being led to believe, we could be in for one hell of a game. There is a belief out there that the Red Wings will see the return of both Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen tonight, so they will likely be matching up against the likes of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau all night long.
That being said, I think this will turn out to be more of a match-up between key defensemen, as the goalies will just have to be good enough to get the wins. Nicklas Lidstrom will have to dig down in his bag of tricks to help find a way to stop a great Sharks offense, while Dan Boyle will be the guy to help guide the Sharks power play through a very stingy Red Wings penalty kill.