Most hockey teams, if given the choice, would probably prefer to play in the friendly confines of their home arena instead of dealing with the hostile conditions of enemy rinks especially when they're in the midst of a slump. For the Canucks, however, getting away from home for a while might just be what the doctor ordered. On Saturday, Vancouver dropped their second straight home game in a 1-0 loss to the Flames to conclude a five-game home stand with a disappointing 2-3-0 record. Vancouver, who is 12-6-2 on the road this season, will be looking to see if they can try and reclaim their winning and scoring touch tonight but they'll have to try and do so in what has become the toughest building in the NHL. The Canucks may tweak their lineup for their showdown against the surprising Preds. Rookie Bo Horvat did not take part in yesterday's practice and, if he can't go, look for fellow rookie Linden Vey to draw back in on the fourth line between Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen. Those hoping to see the return of defenceman Dan Hamhuis will have to wait at least a few more days. Hamhuis took part in yesterday's full team practice but is not quite ready yet to get back into game action although he is hopeful to play at some point during this five-game road trip.
The Predators enter play today sitting tied for first place overall in the NHL and are looking to build on a three-game overall win streak and a five-game home win streak. What's even more impressive is that the Preds have been able to continue their winning ways despite the absence of star forward James Neal, who has missed the last five games due to injury but could make his return tonight. The Preds are also without stud defenceman Ryan Ellis, who was recently placed on the injured reserve list and is not expected to be back until after the All-Star break. Nashville has done a lot of damage this season against Pacific Division teams amassing an 8-2-2 record against foes from that division including knocking off the Canucks 3-1 back on November 2 at Rogers Arena. While Bridgestone Arena has been a house of horrors for many NHL teams this season, the Preds have displayed remarkable southern hospitality to the Canucks in recent visits. Vancouver has won three in a row in Music City dating back to February 22, 2013. Tonight marks the first of two visits the Canucks will make to Nashville this season, and the second of three meetings between the teams overall. Eddie Lack will get the start for the second consecutive game tonight as regular starter Ryan Miller is reportedly still under the weather. Pekka Rinne, who has started all-but-five games for the Preds this season, is expected to get the nod for Nashville.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Contain Forsberg. Canuck teams in years past know what it's liked to be burned by a Forsberg. But these days it's Filip and not Peter they have to worry about. The rookie sensation, who leads the Preds in goals and points, notched his first career multi-goal game and three-point game back on November 2 against Vancouver. With no points in his last two games, you can bet he'll be itching to get back on the scoresheet tonight.
Be ready for a tight game. Nashville's home record may look dominating but the Preds haven't been blowing teams out by any means with 14 of their 19 home games being decided by one goal. Vancouver has been pretty good themselves in one-goal games going 10-2-3 this season but they need to find a way to capitalize on their chances – something they couldn't do on Saturday against the Flames.
Rinne keeps rolling. All-Star Pekka Rinne has just one regulation loss in his last 13 starts (11-1-1) while only allowing more than two goals on two occasions in that stretch. Given Vancouver's recent offensive woes, if Rinne makes a few good stops early on, it might be enough to get into the heads of the Canucks and keep them on their goal-scoring slump.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks in their last five games away from home (1-2-2).
Times this season the Canucks have had 0 power plays in a game including Saturday vs. Calgary.
Straight head-to-head games against the Predators where the Canucks have scored three-or-fewer goals.
Straight wins on home ice for the Preds. They are 16-2-1 overall at Bridgestone Arena this season.
Points for the Canucks last season at the midway mark. The Canucks currently have 49 points after 40 games played.
Minutes and 21 seconds of consecutive playing time without a goal scored by the Canucks.