Canucks hope to end home struggles as Preds visit
Tuesday, 12.22.2009 / 4:30 PM
NHL.comPREDATORS (22-11-3) at CANUCKS (20-16-0)
Nashville 7-1-2; Vancouver 6-4-0
This is the second of four meetings. On Dec. 8, Martin Erat of Nashville scored his second career hat trick and added an assist in a 4-2 home victory. Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Predators and Pekka Rinne recorded the win. The Predators beat the Canucks at home for the first time since Nov. 23, 2006. Ryan Kesler
and Daniel Sedin
scored for Vancouver.
If you’ve read a Vancouver newspaper recently, the sky is falling and the Canucks are going down with it. Truth is, they’ve lost two of their last three, both at home, but are still 14-6-0 at GM Place and are only a point out of a playoff spot.
"Great teams always find a way to win against teams that are out of the playoffs," winger Alexandre Burrows
told the Vancouver Province following the last game, a loss against the Blues on Sunday. "They never have any letdowns and when they smell blood, they go even harder. That's what we've got to do."
Added Canucks coach Alain Vigneault: "All games in this league are difficult. You've got to bust a gut to win."
Nashville is wrapping up a three-game road trip that began with a 6-3 win against the Oilers and a 5-3 victory against the Flames.
Since a 5-0 home loss against Calgary on Nov. 30, the Predators have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Following Saturday’s win at Calgary, Nashville improved to 7-1-2 in its last 10 and 22-11-3 overall.
"Any time you get beat at home, especially the way we got beat, it sort of brings clarity into what you don't want to do," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We sort of got our game back in order once that happened."
In their past four games, all wins, the Predators have used a balanced scoring attack to score 23 goals with at least one tally in all 12 periods.
This is the seventh game in an eight-game homestand for Vancouver that has seen them go 4-2-0 at GM Place. The Canucks have not played a road game since Dec. 8.
The most recent game on Sunday was a 3-1 loss against St. Louis. Rugged defenseman Shane O'Brien
scored the only goal for the Canucks. It was his first score in the regular season since Nov. 8, 2007 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a span of 166 games.
"I don't know how anybody could suggest that the team we played against tonight is not a good team and I don’t know how anybody can suggest that Anaheim's not a good team," coach Alain Vigneault said in regard to the two teams that have defeated Vancouver on the current home stand. "Those are basically the same teams as last year, they're two playoff teams, we're in a tough conference and sometimes you go out there and you bust a gut and you don't play as well as you can but it’s not from a lack of trying."
For the Predators, David Legwand has 3 goals and 4 assists in five games, Ryan Jones has 4 goals and an assist in five games, Patric Hornqvist has 4 goals and 3 assists in four games, Marcel Goc has 2 goals and 4 assists in three games, and Joel Ward has a goal and 5 assists in three games.
For the Canucks, Henrik Sedin
has a goal and 15 assists in nine games, Mason Raymond has 4 goals and 3 assists in five games, Daniel Sedin
has 5 goals and 4 assists in six games, and Ryan Kesler
has 2 goals and 2 assists in three games.
For the Predators, Jordin Tootoo (broken foot) is on injured reserve. For the Canucks, Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Alexander Edler
(arm) are on injured reserve.
With its win at Calgary on Saturday, the Predators earned a point for the seventh consecutive game (6-0-1) -- the second time this season they have had a point streak of that length (Nov. 12-25, seven games, 7-0-0). The win also gave the Predators points in seven consecutive road games for just the second time in franchise history. They also went seven straight with a point from Oct. 16-Nov. 4, 2006 (7-0-0). … Nashville has scored five-or-more goals in four consecutive games, marking just the second time in franchise history this has occurred (Feb. 23-March 1, 2003). … Daniel and Henrik Sedin
have scored hat tricks for Vancouver this season. Not since the 1982-83 season, when Peter and Marian Stastny both had three-goal games with Quebec, have brothers scored hat tricks for the same team in the same season.
"Early in the year, we tried to play way too perimeter, a little too cute. We got back to very basic hockey. Now it's throw some pucks on the net and go to the hard areas and you get rewarded. That's what most teams do in our league now." – Nashville coach Barry Trotz.