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Joshua nets 2 as Canucks roar back for 4-2 win over Nashville in playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven NHL series goes Tuesday night in Vancouver
Vancouver Canucks’ Dakota Joshua, back centre, is mobbed by his teammates after scoring his first goal as Nashville Predators’ Jeremy Lauzon (3) skates to the bench during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Dakota Joshua scored twice and contributed an assist as the Vancouver Canucks stormed back for a 4-2 win over the visiting Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday.

Down 2-1 heading into the third period, the Canucks rallied with a pair of goals 12 seconds apart midway through the third period.

Elias Lindholm and Quinn Hughes also found the back of the net for Vancouver, while Thatcher Demko stopped 20-of-22 shots.

The Predators got goals from Jason Zucker and Ryan O’Reilly, and 17 saves from Juuse Saros.

Vancouver finished the regular season as Pacific Division champions while Nashville earned the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Sunday marked the first time Vancouver has hosted a playoff game since 2015 and an enthusiastic crowd showed its appreciation for the return of post-season hockey by frequently waving white towels, cheering and jeering.

Nashville opened the scoring 15:15 into the game when Zucker collected a pass from Roman Josi and sent a shot through traffic from the top of the faceoff circle, beating Demko stick side.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet attempted to spark some offence late in the first by putting together his top scoring line of J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, but the trio weren’t able to generate a solid opportunity.

Lindholm found the back of the net 47 seconds into the second, sending a long wrist shot past Saros to tie the game at 1-1.

Vancouver continued to press, peppering the Preds’ netminder with shots but Saros held fast.

The Canucks ran into penalty trouble midway through the second, taking three calls in just over six minutes.

Nashville capitalized on their first man advantage of the night after Teddy Blueger was sent to the box for interference.

Gustav Nyquist slid a pass to an unmarked O’Reilly and the veteran centre launched a shot into the top corner of Vancouver’s net to put the Predators up 2-1.

The tally was O’Reilly’s 26th career playoff goal.

Nashville went 1-for-4 on the power play Sunday while Vancouver was 0-for-3.

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Miller nearly knotted the score once again seconds into the third, taking a pass from Boeser and sending it just wide of the Nashville net.

The Canucks got another chance moments later on a power play after Jeremy Lauzon was called for cross-checking.

Pettersson fired a shot on net from the faceoff dot, only to see Saros drop and squeeze the puck between his arm and body to get the whistle.

Hughes scored the equalizer 8:59 into the third, taking a feed from Boeser and blasting a shot past Saros from just inside the blue line to make it 2-2.

Twelve seconds later, Lindholm checked Lauzon behind the Preds’ net and shook him off the puck. Conor Garland picked it up and flicked it to Joshua, who sent it in from the top of the crease to put Vancouver up 3-2.

Demko preserved the one-goal advantage with a series of late stops, including with a minute and 49 seconds left on the game clock when he swallowed up a blast from Josi and held on for the whistle.

The Predators pulled Saros in favour of an extra attacker and Joshua took advantage, scoring his second goal of the night at the 18:32 mark.


Sunday’s game proved to be a physical affair, with the Canucks registering 39 hits and the Predators putting up 32. Nashville winger Cole Smith led the category with six.


Josi now has 32 career post-season assists, setting a new high for the Predators. He also holds the franchise mark for playoff points by a defenceman with 43.


Game 2 is set to go Tuesday in Vancouver. The series will move to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press