NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It's a strange formulation.
Even though his team lost in overtime in Game 2, Vancouver center Ryan Kesler said he thought the Canucks had the momentum going into Game 3. That was because after getting badly outshot in regulation of Game 2, Vancouver outshot Nashville 18-10 in the two overtime sessions.
"I thought we generated a lot of momentum in overtime in Game 2," Kesler said. "I thought we definitely dominated the overtime, we just got a little bit unlucky, but that helps going into Game 3 knowing that that's the way we need to play …
"Honestly, I thought we had the momentum going into Game 3 and we carried the play for the most of the game. We outshot them 10-1 in the first few minutes and that's the way we need to play."
Regardless of whether you agree with Kesler's formulation, it proved itself to be true.
The Canucks controlled much of the play in their 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 – the one hiccup being that the Canucks yielded a late lead for the second straight game, a concept that did not seem to bother them so much on Wednesday.The score was tied entering the third period, but Vancouver scored at 3:03 to take a 2-1 lead. During the regular season, Vancouver posted a .927 winning percentage when it led after two periods.
"To tell you the truth, we thought we played the right way," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We were able to come out of our zone a little bit better. I thought we carried the play. Their goalie stopped us from taking maybe more of a commanding lead. Something went in off a leg like the tying goal in the second game.
"Things like that are going to happen. You have to fight through it."
Vigneault and players were pressed to explain how they could blow a one-goal lead two games in a row and whether it revealed some weakness. The coach and his players said they did not sit back in a defensive posture and the facts seem to back them up.
"We've never sat back all year," he said. "We scored the most third-period goals. We were trying to push the pace. We had 16 shots in the third period. They just got a goal off one of our skates."
In fact, the Canucks did lead the League with 100 third-period goals in the regular season -- and they outshot Nashville 16-14 in the third period in Game 3. So the Canucks are convincing when they say that they just are the victim of some bad bounces and that they were not affected negatively by them.
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said Vancouver has not had trouble protecting leads in the postseason.
"No, I don't think so," Ehrhoff said. "I think last night's goal was just a bad bounce. Those went in off somebody's skates. Just have to stick with the process after those goals and just got to keep playing. And that's what we did last night and got rewarded."
He agreed with Vigneault that they did not sit back and try to protect the lead.
The Canucks know the pesky Predators – who think of themselves as resilient and will never stop trying to rally – will keep coming at them.
"No, keep playing our game and still play in their end and not just sit back and defend because that's usually when you get scored on," he said.
But for now, if that happens, the Canucks seem to have found a way to persevere.