Canucks-Predators Preview


Coach John Tortorella was pleased with how the Vancouver Canucks responded from an ugly defeat, led by a strong penalty-killing unit that has been among the best in the league.

Vancouver concludes a four-game road trip Tuesday night looking for a fourth straight victory over the Nashville Predators, who again may be without star defenseman Shea Weber.

The Canucks (14-10-5) lost for the eighth time in 10 games with Saturday's 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, whom Tortorella coached for the previous four-plus seasons.

Sunday's contest went much better, as Ryan Kesler scored twice and Vancouver killed off all six short-handed situations in a 3-2 win over Carolina.

"It was god-awful (Saturday) afternoon, and really one of the few times it has been this year," Tortorella said. "But (Sunday), it was outstanding. We struggled a bit to get the momentum back after those penalties, but I thought our power play and our penalty kill were the key to the win."

The Canucks haven't been able to build off a victory in quite a while, however. Vancouver hasn't earned consecutive wins since a four-game run from Oct. 22-28.

Though the Canucks have struggled overall lately, their penalty kill is 50 of 54 over their last 16 games and that unit ranks among the best in the league, killing off 88.8 percent of opponents' power plays.

"We study the other teams quite well," defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "We have guys that are smart that read the plays and get in good position. We're a committed group that's willing to block shots. You always need a good goalie, too, to have a successful penalty kill, and we've had that."

Eddie Lack made 29 saves Sunday, though Roberto Luongo should be back in net for this contest. Luongo was pulled after giving up three goals on 10 shots against the Rangers.

He's 6-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average in his last seven starts against the Predators - including the postseason - and has won each contest during Vancouver's three-game winning streak in the series.

The Canucks have won seven of the last eight road meetings with Nashville, which is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. The Predators played without Weber, who suffered an eye injury after being hit with a puck in Thursday's 3-0 loss to Edmonton.

Marek Mazanec made 22 saves against the Flyers for a Nashville team that also has been without goaltender Pekka Rinne since Oct. 24 because of a hip infection.

''When you lose your two All-Stars, everybody has to pick up the slack, but I think everybody becomes a little bit more aware,'' winger Colin Wilson said. ''Everybody is taking care of the 'D' zone and being more detailed. I think we saw that (Sunday) the way everybody was playing and playing as a unit.''

The Predators went 0 for 5 on the power play and are 1 for 12 with the man advantage over their last five.

"I thought we probably deserved a better fate," coach Barry Trotz said. "We played well enough with the young defense. I thought our young defense played pretty well. I thought our forwards played pretty well."

Nashville is 5 for 57 on the power play in its last 17 meetings with Vancouver, including playoffs.