Tonight’s game is presented by Save On Foods
Team Record: 12-7-6
Last Game: 2-1 SO/W at Columbus (MAR.12.13)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Last Meeting: 1-0 W (FEB.22.13) Team Record: 11-9-6
Last Game: 4-0 W at Dallas (MAR.12.13)
Season Series: 0-1-0
Last Meeting: 0-1 L (FEB.22.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (12-7-6) return to the friendly confines of Rogers Arena to begin a four-game home stand starting tonight when they host the Nashville Predators (11-9-6).
What You Need to Know
The Canucks begin a four-game home stand tonight which is the most consecutive games in a row they will play at Rogers Arena from now until the end of the season. They have three more home stands to go after this one but none of those will exceed three games in length.
The Canucks are coming off a three-game road trip that saw them finish with a 1-1-1 record. They managed to salvage a respectable record on the trip with a 2-1 shootout win in Columbus in their last outing, a win that snapped a four-game winless skid.
The Predators are playing the second game of a four-game road trip tonight. They began their trip with a 4-0 shutout win in Dallas on Tuesday.
Despite Tuesday's victory, the Predators have been struggling of late with just four wins in their last 12 outings (4-6-2). They're looking to string together back-to-back wins tonight for the first time in a month.
Tonight marks the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Predators this season. In their first meeting back on February 22, F Dale Weise broke a scoreless tie midway through the third period while G Roberto Luongo stopped all 23 shots he faced to lead the Canucks to a 1-0 win in Nashville.
The Canucks managed to reclaim top spot in the Northwest Division on Tuesday thanks to their win coupled with Minnesota's loss to Anaheim that night. They can stretch their division lead to as many as four points over Minnesota tonight with a win combined with a Wild loss against the Avalanche.
The Canucks had a team day off yesterday so any lineup news won't be known at least until after the morning skate. Many observers are undoubtedly keeping an eye on the status of D Kevin Bieksa who has missed the last five straight games with a groin injury. The Canucks are 1-4-2 this season without Bieksa in the lineup.
Nashville will be without several of their top forwards tonight including leading scorer Colin Wilson and Patrick Hornqvist. They may also be without F Paul Gaustad as well as he left Tuesday's win in Dallas with an upper body injury and did not return.
G Roberto Luongo is a good bet to be Vancouver's starter tonight after his strong outing in Columbus on Tuesday. Luongo shutout the Preds back on February 22 and has a career record of 13-12-3 versus Nashville with a 2.18 GAA and a .924 save percentage to go with three shutouts.
Predators G Pekka Rinne has started the last 10 games in a row for the Predators and will likely make it 11 in a row tonight. He's coming off his league-leading fifth shutout of the season and has a shutout streak of 95:59 entering tonight's game. Rinne has a career record of 5-6-1 against the Canucks with a 2.46 GAA and a .923 save percentage to go with one shutout.
Follow the Action
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on TSN. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
They build on Tuesday's slump buster. For the first time in a while, the Canucks have a little bit of momentum heading into a game as they're coming off a rare win. It's imperative for them to use that confidence to get off to a good start against a Predators team that is coming off a strong outing in their last game action as well.
They play with the lead. The Canucks managed a rare feat on Tuesday in Columbus by winning a game in which they never led. They probably won't want to tempt fate by repeating that formula again tonight especially against a Predators team that isn't known to give up many leads. In fact, Nashville has yet to lose in regulation this season when scoring the first goal of the game (10-0-5).
They finally get that power play back on track. If ever there was a night for Vancouver's woeful man-advantage to finally break through, it would be tonight facing a Predators team that has given up at least one power play goal in six of their last eight outings killing only 16-of-26 opponent power plays during that stretch (61.5 percent).
The Predators Win If...
They play to win, not tie. Nashville started strong in their last meeting against Vancouver out-shooting the Canucks 13-3 in the opening frame but then was out-shot 21-10 over the final two frames. Even if tonight's game is close, the Preds need to continue pressing on offence rather than just sitting back and hoping to get to overtime.
Rinne puts up a brick wall. Nashville's number one netminder has been red hot in his last three outings allowing just one goal on 85 shots during that stretch (.988 save percentage). The Predators, who are one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL despite their four-goal outburst on Tuesday in Dallas, will no doubt be counting on Rinne to be near perfect if they want to get out of Vancouver with two points.
Weber stays hot. After struggling to put up points in the early part of the season, Weber is looking like the Weber of old and that's great timing for a Predators team that has recently lost a couple of their top scoring forwards in Colin Wilson and Patric Horqnvist. Nashville will need Weber to continue his scoring streak tonight which currently sits at four games.
Ones to Watch
The way David Booth has been playing lately, you would think it's only a matter of time before he finally breaks the goose egg in the goal column of his personal statistics this season.
Booth has been getting more than his fair share of scoring chances in recent outings despite not skating in a top-six forward role but has still yet to find the back of the net. Counting last season's playoffs, Booth's goal-less drought has now reached 13 straight contests and he has just one goal in his last 24 games played.
The Predators might not be a team that most would expect Booth to break his long scoring drought against. He failed to record a point against them in the first head-to-head meeting this season and has just one goal and two points against them in nine career games. The Detroit-native is two points shy of recording his 200th career point.
With the Predators missing several of their top forwards due to injury, one of the players they are counting on to fill the void on offence is 32-year-old David Legwand. So far, Legwand has been doing just that.
The former second overall pick of the Predators back in 1998 comes into tonight's game with points (2-2-4) in each of his last three outings marking his first sustained point streak of the season. A point tonight would give him his first four-game point streak in just over a year. He had points in four consecutive games from February 25 to March 3, 2012.
Legwand had a fairly nondescript night the last time the Predators faced the Canucks back on February 22. He had no points, no shots, no hits and no penalty minutes in just over 16 minutes of ice-time. In 46 career games versus Vancouver, Legwand has 10 goals and 24 points along with 28 penalty minutes.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canucks Leading Scorers
2012.13 Regular Season
Player GP G A P +/-
Henrik Sedin 25 6 18 24 14
Daniel Sedin 25 8 15 23 9
Alexandre Burrows 25 5 9 14 9
Dan Hamhuis 25 2 12 14 1
Jannik Hansen 24 6 7 13 6
Predators Leading Scorers
2012.13 Regular Season
Player GP G A P +/-
Colin Wilson 25 7 12 19 1
Shea Weber 26 4 10 14 6
Martin Erat 25 3 10 13 -3
David Legwand 26 5 6 11 1
Sergei Kostitsyn 26 2 9 11 7
In the Infirmary
For the Canucks...
For the Predators...
F Paul Gaustad (upper body) is questionable. F Patrick Hornqvist (upper body), F Colin Wilson (upper body) and D Hal Gill (lower body) are on the injured reserve list.
By the Numbers
1 – Win needed for Coach V to reach 300 victories behind the Canucks bench.
4th – Time this season the Canucks will appear on TSN. The Canucks are undefeated in regulation playing on TSN this season (2-0-1).
55th – All-time meeting between the Canucks and Predators. Vancouver leads the all-time series 32-19-3.
287:48 – Consecutive playing time for the Canucks without holding a lead entering tonight's game.
419 – Straight sellouts for Canucks hockey at Rogers Arena entering tonight's game. The streak dates back November 14, 2002 and includes 373 regular season games and 46 playoff games.
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