VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Chalk up another first for Elias Pettersson.
The rookie sensation scored on his initial NHL penalty shot and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 Thursday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Pettersson made it look easy, snaking his way across the ice, making a couple of dekes, then slipping the puck past the toe of Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne to give Vancouver a 4-1 lead late in the second period.
“I was trying to fake and go right to left,” said Pettersson, who also had an assist. “It worked out this time.”
Bo Horvat said it’s the kind of play the Canucks have come to expect from the 20-year-old Swede.
“It was a highly skilled move by a highly skilled player,” said Horvat, who had a goal and an assist. “You expect him to do those kinds of things and it’s nice to see that go in for him.”
Pettersson was awarded the penalty shot with 1:11 left in the second period after being hauled down on a breakaway by Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Pettersson took his time getting to his feet.
“I was mostly tired, actually,” he said. “I took some time to rest. I was ready to go when the ref blew the whistle.”
Picked fifth overall in the 2017 draft, Pettersson leads all rookies with 14 goals and 25 points. He started the season with nine goals and six assists in his first nine games but had just one goal and three assists in his last eight.
“Some games you can create a lot and have zero points,” he said. “Sometimes you create two chances and you have two points.
“I’m only focusing on playing a good game, then the points will eventually come.”
Jake Virtanen also had a goal and an assist for the Canucks, who have just two wins in their last 14 games (2-10-2).
Alex Edler, on the power play, and Loui Eriksson also scored for Vancouver (12-16-3). Antoine Roussel had two assists. Nikolay Goldobin, a healthy scratch in Vancouver’s 3-2 loss Tuesday to Minnesota, assisted on Edler’s goal to give him a team-leading 13 helpers.
Ryan Hartman, Colton Sissons and Matt Irwin scored for Nashville (19-9-1), which won its previous two games. Rinne, making his sixth straight start, had 21 saves before being replaced to start the third period by Juuse Saros. He stopped four shots.
Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves.
The line of Horvat, Virtanen and Roussel was particularly effective, combining for six points, two goals and plenty of chances.
“I felt like with our speed we were catching them on 2-on-1s a lot,” Virtanen said.
With just 26 seconds left in the first period, Horvat took a feed from Virtanen and rifled a shot under the crossbar.
“Bo had a great finish,” Virtanen said. “It was a perfect shot.”
Virtanen’s goal came early in the second on a 2-on-1 break started by Horvat. Roussel carried the puck into the Nashville end, then slid a pass past defenseman Ryan Ellis that Virtanen fired by Rinne.
The Predators, who were playing without three of their top forwards and one of their best defensemen, looked sluggish early and trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.
“That was a little bit ugly,” Sissons said. “We came out extremely slow and (with) a lack of determination and they were quite the opposite.
“We didn’t show up ready to play.”
The Predators made things interesting with a couple of goals late in the third period.
“I thought we pushed back in the second half of the game, but it was too late,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “The start wasn’t good, and it ended up costing the game.”
The victory blew some confidence back into the Canucks’ sails as the team heads out on the road for games in St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville.
“I can’t stress how huge that was for us,” said Horvat, who has nine points (three goals, six assists) in the last nine games. “We have to keep it going now.
“We can’t win one, then lose a couple. We have to keep our spirits high and keep the positive momentum going into the road and try and get some wins.”
NOTES: Eriksson’s goal was his first point in 11 games. … In a span of 1:40 during the first period, Edler scored a goal, flattened Yannick Weber with a big hit and was called for a penalty. … The Canucks went 0 for 12 on the power play in their previous four games. … D Michael Del Zotto was a healthy scratch for the first time since an eight-game stretch in October. … The Predators played without forwards Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, and defenseman P.K. Subban — all due to injury.
Predators: Play at Calgary on Saturday night.
Canucks: Play at St. Louis on Sunday afternoon.
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