VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — It took the Nashville Predators six tries and 12 years to make the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After the first game, coach Barry Trotz is still waiting for them to show up.
Badly outshot and outplayed for two periods, Pekka Rinne made 29 saves to keep the Predators in it, but didn't get nearly enough help as the Vancouver Canucks opened the Western Conference semifinals with a 1-0 win Thursday night.
"The biggest disappointment you can have is when you have an expectation from someone who you want to go to war with every night, and they're letting you down," Trotz said. "Too many passengers, not enough guys pulling on the rope. I mean we're in the conference semifinal. Are you kidding me? Not acceptable."
Rinne kept it close early on, but fellow Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo made nine of his 20 saves in the third period to ensure Chris Higgins' goal with 7:46 left in the second stood up as the winner.
For Luongo, the hardest part was staying awake while facing just 11 shots the first two periods, especially while Rinne was busy turning aside 25 of 26 — several in spectacular fashion — to give the Predators a chance.
"Shots are 20-5 so you don't want to give up a goal and all of a sudden it's 1-0 for them," Luongo said. "That's your mindset, you focus on getting involved in the play and making sure you are sharp when you do get a shot."
The toughest Luongo faced was a short-handed breakaway 5:20 into the third period, but he patiently waited out Mike Fisher's glove-side shot.
"A couple shots early in the third and I was able to settle in," Luongo said of his second shutout during this postseason and No. 3 for his career in the playoffs.
The Canucks, who host Game 2 on Saturday, wasted little time settling into the second round.