ALSO ON SLAM!
Sunday, January 23, 2000
Predators 2, CANUCKS 1
Predators claw by Canucks
VANCOUVER (AP) -- Nashville Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun is no longer worrying about the big picture.
Vokoun, thriving since his return from a brief stint in the minors, made 22 saves Sunday night in the Predators' 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
"Before, it wasn't fun. I was so afraid to play. Now, it's whatever happens," said Vokoun, who's 5-2 since making his return to Nashville after last month's one-week stint in Milwaukee. "There's going to be bad nights, you're going to give up bad goals. I'm just human. You can't stop them all."
Against the Canucks, Vokoun was sharp. After giving up the game-opening goal on a Canucks' two-man advantage 7:29 into the first period, Vokoun shut the door the rest of the way.
Vokoun's biggest stop came with 19 seconds left in the game when he kicked out his left pad to foil Markus Naslund, who snapped a shot from eight feet out. The goalie was also lucky as Mark Messier banged a shot off the post midway through the third period.
Vitali Yachmenev, with his third goal in three games, scored the go-ahead goal 1:37 into the third period, while Robert Valicevic also scored as the Predators beat the Canucks for the first time in four meetings this season.
With the win, Nashville -- 3-5-1 in its last nine games -- moved into an 11th place in the Western Conference standings, a point ahead of the Canucks.
Predators' coach Barry Trotz, whose club opened its three-game western road swing with Friday's 5-4 overtime loss in Calgary, called the win over Vancouver a big one.
"We just got to worry about getting two points tomorrow (at Edmonton) and see if we can get closer and closer. It's a big win for us," Trotz said.
As for Vokoun, Trotz said he's noticed him to be a more mature player since returning to the Nashville lineup.
"I'm glad he went through that. ... He's a much more mature person in handling that. He doesn't fret as much and sort of puts the past behind him and looks forward to the next game," Trotz said.
Yachmenev's goal came on a great individual effort. Digging the puck out at the right boards, Yachmenev carried the puck behind the net and, coming out the other side, backhanded a shot that beat goalie Garth Snow on the short side. Yachmenev has five goals and six points in his last six games.
Trent Klatt, coming off a two-goal, three-point night in Saturday's 3-3 tie at Edmonton, scored for the Canucks, who are winless in their last eight home games (0-6-2). Vancouver has also managed just two wins in its last 13 games, going 2-8-3 over that stretch.
"Our team in a game that is this big, we just simply had to find a way to be better tonight and we didn't," Canucks coach Marc Crawford. "You can make up ground if you play with intense emotion and you play with some passion. And we didn't have enough guys playing with enough emotion and passion tonight. ... That's what's missing from our games."
The Canucks have now been involved in 18 one-goal games this season, losing 11 of them and are 1-8-7 in games in which they are tied after two periods.
Cliff Ronning, who leads the Predators with 17 goals and 45 points, was held without a point, failing to set a franchise record as his seven-game points streak came to an end. Ronning, who had 10 assists during the streak, joins Greg Johnson and Sergei Krivokrasov, who set the record last season.