NHL

Canucks advance to 2nd round, beating Predators 1-0 in Game 6 on Pius Suter’s late goal

Canucks advance to 2nd round, beating Predators 1-0 in Game 6 on Pius Suter's late goal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet told Pius Suter to keep shooting. Suter did just that, and it paid off.

Suter scored with 1:39 left and the Canucks advanced to the second round of the NHL playoffs with a 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Friday night in Game 6.

“If you keep going to those spots, it’ll happen, and it happened for Suits and big game- winning goal for us,” Tocchet said about the forward who had three of his five shots in the third.

Nashville had a final chance to force overtime with a power play with 33.9 seconds left after Elias Lindholm was called for cross-checking Gustav Nyquist. Even with goalie Juuse Saros pulled for an extra attacker, the Predators couldn't beat rookie goalie Arturs Silovs before time expired.

The final four games in this series were decided by one goal. First-year Nashville coach Andrew Brunette said this might've been the tightest series he can remember being in. Replaying the final 33 seconds, the Jack Adams finalist said he could see opportunities his Predators missed.

“You’re going to get in one of these games, and hockey’s cruel sometimes,” Brunette said.

Silovs made 28 saves to become the 14th rookie goalie in NHL history to finish off a series with a shutout and just the fifth in 30 years. He joined Akira Schmid (2023), Matt Murray (2017 against Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final winner), Carey Price (2008) and Ilya Bryzgalov (2006) in that select group.

“He stepped in and what a crazy scenario he’s been thrown into,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said about Silovs. “He made the saves when he needed to in such a big and crazy environment. We’re happy for him."

Vancouver will play Edmonton. The Oilers finished second behind the Canucks in the Pacific Division and beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.

“I have thought about it for more than two seconds to be honest with you,” Miller said about facing the Oilers.

The Canucks continued the streak started in Game 2 of the road team winning each of the final five games. They won their first playoff series outside the pandemic bubble since 2011 when Vancouver reached the Stanley Cup Final, a run that included a Game 6 win over the Preds in Nashville.

The Predators have lost six straight playoff games on home ice, taking some of the luster off the franchise's reputation as Smashville. They haven't won a postseason series since 2018 after winning the Presidents' Trophy a season after Nashville's unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.

Suter scored only his second of the series from in front off a pass from Brock Boeser, beating Saros who also made 28 saves in a game that seemed headed for overtime.

“I was trying to take away a little bit of the pass option, and I quite couldn’t reach with my stick,” Saros said. “And then after that you just try to go and reach with your pad, but, you know, small margin there.”

Vancouver had its most shots in a game this series after being held to a combined 92 shots through the first five games. That was the second-fewest in a playoff series through five games since 1960 trailing only Washington (90) in the 1998 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Silovs got into the mix when Vezina Trophy finalist Thatcher Demko was declared week-to-week with an injury after winning Game 1. Casey DeSmith started Games 2 and 3 before his own injury, then Silovs made his postseason debut, winning Game 4 for a 3-1 lead.

“I just embraced the challenge,” Silovs said. “I knew I had already had played on big stages before. I was already familiar with what would happen, what kind of games they were going to be. It was a great opportunity for me to play for the big club and seize the opportunity."

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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