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Canucks Report: Hunting the Predators

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks (31-30-10) are back home to open a two-game homestand tonight when they play host to the Nashville Predators (29-30-10) at Rogers Arena.

The two teams are separated by four points in the Western Conference standings. It’s the third and final meeting of the season between the teams with each club winning in the other’s building.

   The Canucks are coming off a 4-3 loss in Tampa Bay on Monday. That wrapped up a 2-2 road trip which saw the team post shootout victories in Winnipeg and Florida. Alex Burrows has recorded back to back 3-point games and had 5+3=8 on the four-game road trip. Nine of Burrows’ 14 points on the season have come in the past five games. Rookie Nicklas Jensen (2+1) rides a three-game point streak into action tonight. Jensen has 2+2 and a shootout winning goal in his six games since being recalled from AHL Utica 10 days ago.

Brad Richardson (upper body) returns to the line-up after missing seven games. Chris Tanev (finger) is out indefinitely after getting hurt on Monday in Tampa.

As a team, the Canucks have scored 15 goals in their past five games. Contrast that to the 16 goals the team had scored in the 12 games prior to this recent run. The team has scored power play goals in consecutive games for the first time since January 4th and 5th.

Eddie Lack has been busy since the Olympic break and will start his 12th straight game tonight. He has played all but 20 minutes in that stretch (3rd period in Dallas on March 6th).

The Predators are here after a 5-1 loss in Edmonton last night. That’s back to back losses and six in the team’s past nine games. Gabriel Bourque had the Preds lone goal last night. Pekka Rinne got the start but was replaced by Carter Hutton in the third period.

After missing most of the season with a hip injury, Rinne has started seven of the past eight games since his return to the line-up. A rarity at this time of the season, the Predators have no players listed on their injury report.

Sicamous native Shea Weber continues to be one of the most-productive defensemen in the NHL. He leads the Preds in scoring 44 points and his 16 goals are second among all d-men in the league (OTT Karlsson has 17). He’s tied with Zdeno Chara for the league-lead in power play goals from the blueline with nine so far this season.

The Predators are tied with Los Angeles as the best face-off team in the league (53.0%). Paul Gaustad has won 57.5% of his draws this season while Matt Cullen is 56.5% in the circle. Those two are among the top eight in the league in face-off winning percentage.

Tonight’s game is the first time North Vancouver native and former Kelowna Rocket Colton Scissons has played at Rogers Arena. The 2012 second-round draft pick has played nine games this season and is still looking for his first NHL goal.

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