At the Rink: Predators at Canucks

Tuesday, 01.26.2016 / 4:57 PM | Kevin Woodley  - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Brandon Sutter will center the top line for the Vancouver Canucks against the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; FS-TN, SNP).

It's Sutter's first game since sustaining a sports hernia Nov. 10. He had surgery Dec. 1.

He'll skate between Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin in a different role for Sutter, who is known more for his defensive abilities, and could mean a lot of ice time after missing 33 games.

"First game back after a while, you just want to play a simple game," Sutter said. "But if the chances are there, we'll try to create some offense and try to be a little bit dynamic. Daniel and Jannik have been two of our best players, so I just want to do what I can to produce some offense and make sure we are good in our own end too."

Henrik Sedin, the usual top-line center, will miss a fourth straight game because of an upper-body injury. Jared McCann, a 19-year-old rookie, had centered the top line the past three games but will sit out Tuesday as part of an ongoing plan to space out his games and give him time to work on his strength and conditioning.

No matter who is playing center for the Canucks (20-18-11), Hansen said being on the top line is different without Henrik and Daniel Sedin together.

"They play a way you can't duplicate," said Hansen, who scored three goals in a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the last of a six-game road trip. "When McCann comes in, our game is a little more speed based, a little more off the rush. With Henrik, it's a little more cycle and puck possession in the offensive zone. Sutter has a mixture of those two. He can cycle, is good down low and strong on the puck, and you can use that. But he's also fast in the transition game. He's a little more multidimensional."

The Predators (22-18-8) will be looking for new chemistry on their top line Tuesday.

No. 1 center Ryan Johansen was an immediate fit with James Neal after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade for defenseman Seth Jones on Jan. 6. Johansen leads Nashville with nine points in eight games since then, and Neal has two goals and three assists in his past five games.

They are still looking for the right fit on their left wing, however. Colin Wilson was injured after the first game in that spot, and the Predators have tried Filip Forsberg, Kevin Fiala and Mike Ribeiro, a natural center, in his place since.

With Forsberg playing well alongside Mike Fisher and Craig Smith in a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and coach Peter Laviolette eager to maintain balance in his forward lines, Ribeiro is expected to stay on the top line Tuesday even after all three were held without a point in Edmonton.

That requires a bit of an adjustment by Johansen as the Predators aim for their first three-game winning streak since Oct. 17-22.

"I've always been a pass-first style of guy, always looking for my linemates in scoring areas," Johansen said. "My job now is to get to those scoring areas because more than me, [Ribeiro] is a playmaker and he's able to find guys more often than not."

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Ribeiro - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith

Miikka Salomaki - Calle Jarnkrok - Austin Watson

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Petter Granberg

Ryan Ellis - Barret Jackman

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Colin Wilson (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Kevin Fiala


Daniel Sedin - Brandon Sutter - Jannik Hansen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata

Alexandre Burrows - Linden Vey - Emerson Etem

Derek Dorsett - Adam Cracknell - Jake Virtanen

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton - Luca Sbisa

Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega

Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Injured: Henrik Sedin (upper body), Dan Hamhuis (facial surgery)

Scratched: Jared McCann, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber

Status report: Henrik Sedin, who came back to Vancouver midway through the six-game road trip, is expected to rejoin the Canucks for practice after the All-Star break. … Wilson, who hasn't played since Jan. 8, is not on the Predators' four-game road trip, which ends Wednesday against the Calgary Flames.

Who’s hot: Rinne has made 49 saves on 51 shots and given up one goal in consecutive wins on this road trip after giving up three goals or more during a five-game losing streak (0-4-1).

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