Ryan Johansen’s goal with 20.4 seconds left in regulation lifted the Nashville Predators to a comeback, 3-2 home-ice victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
The Predators (46-29-6, 98 points) improved their hopes of finishing first or second in the Central Division and securing home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Canucks (35-36-10, 80 points) took their first loss in four games.
Johansen put in a pass from Filip Forsberg after a couple of Canucks turnovers in their own end. The goal capped Nashville’s rally from a 2-0 first-period deficit. The officials reviewed the play for a possible offside call, but the goal stood.
All three Predators goals passed replay checks.
Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Predators, while Colton Sissons also scored, and Austin Watson furnished two assists.
Tanner Pearson scored a goal and added an assist for the Canucks. Markus Granlund also scored. Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes tallied two assists and now has three points in four career NHL games.
Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne stopped 30 of 32 shots, while Vancouver counterpart Jacob Markstrom blocked 30 of 33.
Granlund gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead on a power play 8:49 into the game as he took Hughes’ pass from the side boards, skated in front of Rinne and beat him with a backhand. The goal was Granlund’s second regulation-time tally in two games. He also netted the shootout winner a game earlier, against Dallas on March 30.
With 12 seconds left in the first period, Pearson padded Vancouver’s lead during another man-advantage situation, firing in a Hughes rebound. Pearson’s shot hit the crossbar and then bounced into the net off the back of Rinne’s mask.
The goal was Pearson’s fourth regulation-time marker in five games. He also scored a shootout winner in that span, against Los Angeles on March 28.
Sissons narrowed Vancouver’s lead just 37 seconds into the middle frame when his shot trickled through Markstrom as a referee’s whistle was sounding. A video review determined that the goal stood.
Bonino, a former Canuck, drew the Predators even on another controversial goal with 4:20 left in the third period. He put in a rebound as Watson fell and slid into Markstrom.
Canucks coach Travis Green challenged the goal on grounds of goaltender interference, but the goal was allowed to stand after a video review.