VANCOUVER — The war of attrition has picked up speed.
Both the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators felt the sting of the injury bug in Saturday’s 4-3 clash.
The Predators, already without two forwards in Jerred Smithson and Steve Sullivan, saw Nick Spaling go down for much of their win with what looked like a shoulder injury.
Spaling was crunched into the end boards by Sami Salo in the second period, but returned late in the game.
“That was an ‘Oh no’ moment,” said Preds coach Barry Trotz. “But those make us strong. They really do. They make me grey and lose my hair, but they make us strong.”
Things went from bad to worse at the time because midway through the third period, before Spaling’s return, Mike Fisher was in the penalty box and David Legwand was in the room dealing with a broken skate blade.
“We said, ‘Hey, anybody played centre before? You’re going in,’” Trotz chuckled.
The news wasn’t as jovial for the Canucks.
Forward Mikael Samuelsson was injured in the second period after a collision with Spaling and didn’t return.
Head coach Alain Vigneault said Samuelsson won’t make the trip to Nashville for Game 6, which likely means Victor Oreskovich will draw back into the lineup.
The Canucks had a couple of close shaves when Chris Higgins blocked a shot and went to the dressing room in the first period. In the second frame, Ryan Kesler, who’s been the best forward for either team this series, had a deflected puck hit him in the face.
He needed stitches for a nasty gash on his chin and lost a tooth.