Predators-Canucks Preview

The Associated Press

The Vancouver Canucks got off to a winning start in their long stretch without their coach, even though they were also without Henrik Sedin.

It's not clear if Sedin will miss a second straight game Thursday night against the visiting Nashville Predators.

Vancouver (26-16-9) won 2-1 at lowly Edmonton on Tuesday in the start of coach John Tortorella's 15-day suspension for his role in Saturday's altercation with Calgary. Assistant Mike Sullivan is in charge in Tortorella's absence.

Sedin's franchise-record 679 streak of games came to an end as he sat out due to an undisclosed injury. Sedin, tied with brother Daniel for the team lead with 40 points, failed to finish the Canucks' previous two contests.

''I think we all have to step up,'' goalie Roberto Luongo said. ''It's not just one person, that's what good teams do. When there's guys out of the lineup other guys have to step up and those coming into the lineup have to play well."

Luongo made 28 saves, Kellan Lain scored his first NHL goal in his second game and Zack Kassian had the other score for the Canucks, who killed off all four Oilers' power plays and held on after conceding a goal with five minutes left.

''I thought we played hard, I thought we played smart, the first two periods I thought we played real well,'' Sullivan said. ''We were playing with fire there in the second, they have a lot of skill and their power play was really good."

Vancouver has won four straight over Nashville (22-22-7), posting a 3-1 road victory Dec. 3. Ryan Kesler scored twice and Luongo stopped 30 shots to lower his goals-against average to 1.75 over his last four starts against the Predators - all victories.

The Canucks could get their first look at Carter Hutton, who made 35 saves Monday in Nashville's 4-1 home victory over Dallas. Hutton has won three straight starts following an 0-4-1 stretch in which he posted a 3.64 GAA.

"Confidence-wise, Carter made some big saves," coach Barry Trotz said. "And that's what goaltending does, it changes the momentum."

The Predators are 1-3-2 in their last six on the road as they open a four-game trip.

"We're going to have (to have) some mental toughness, we've required some all year," Trotz said. "This will be hopefully a trip where we can continue to show what we're made of."

Nashville continues to get offense from its defensemen. Roman Josi had a goal and an assist Monday and Shea Weber also scored.

Seven of the Predators' last 15 goals have been scored by defensemen.

''We try to jump up in the play if we can and do something for the offense,'' Josi said. ''Lately it has been clicking.''

A new defenseman will get a chance to contribute if he makes his Nashville debut. Michael Del Zotto was acquired Wednesday from the New York Rangers for Kevin Klein.

David Legwand is one of the forwards who has been producing with seven points during a four-game run. Colin Wilson has not with one point in his last seven games.

Saturday's Canucks brawl notwithstanding, neither team is known for physical play. Nashville averages 19.80 hits per game and Vancouver 19.61 to rank among the league's lower marks.

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