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Canucks carry five-game win streak as they face Preds

by Brian Hunter
PREDATORS (11-9-4) at CANUCKS (14-9-1)


Last 10:
Nashville 4-4-2; Vancouver 8-2-0

Season series:
Second of four meetings. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin got the Canucks' four-goal first period started in a 5-1 win over the Predators on Oct. 20, also at Rogers Arena. It was their first matchup since Vancouver ousted Nashville in six games in the second round of last spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Big story:
Roberto Luongo played every minute of the Canucks' series win over the Predators in the 2011 postseason and backstopped their earlier win this season, but Cory Schneider has become the man of the moment in the Pacific Northwest. Schneider got an opportunity a couple weeks ago when Luongo missed a brief period of time due to injury, and he currently has Vancouver -- which gets Mason Raymond back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered a vertebrae fracture in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final -- on a five-game winning streak.

Team Scope:

Predators: This is the finale of a five-game road trip that has seen Nashville score only five goals while winning once on the first four stops. Back in net Tuesday after Anders Lindback made just his second start of the season in a win over Edmonton this past weekend, Pekka Rinne was the team's best player in Calgary, but a Derek Smith goal with 1:10 left in the first period was enough to beat him. Rinne had shut out the Flames in their previous meeting with the Predators.

"We have to get a little more greasy in these one-puck games where it's 1-0," coach Barry Trotz said. "You've got to get to the blue paint, get that mental drive and see if you can find a loose puck and put pucks in there. We need to get a little more of a shoot-first mentality."

Canucks: Schneider has been making it nearly impossible for coach Alain Vigneault to return Luongo to the crease, even though the No. 1 has been healthy and dressing as backup for the past several games. Schneider has followed up consecutive shutouts with back-to-back performances of 40-plus saves, including a career-high 47 stops in Tuesday's 4-1 win over Columbus. Daniel Sedin and David Booth staked him to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes and despite the Blue Jackets' best efforts to get back in the game, Schneider wouldn't let them.

"I haven't played this many games (consecutively) at the NHL level," Schneider said. "It's been a little while, but once you get into that rhythm, it's something you don't really forget."

Who's hot:
Schneider has stopped 164 of 168 shots during his current run, for a robust .976 save percentage. Ryan Kesler has 3 goals and 4 assists during a five-game points streak. Alexandre Burrows has goals in three of the Canucks' past four games.

Injury report:
Nashville forward Blake Geoffrion (arm/shoulder) is out indefinitely, while defenseman Francis Bouillon (groin) is day-to-day. … Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome (thumb) is day-to-day. Forward Andrew Ebbett (foot) and defensemen Nolan Baumgartner (foot) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Predators have scored 25 of their 60 goals this season (42 percent) in the third period. … Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis had 12 points (2 goals) in November, placing him second in team scoring behind Daniel Sedin's 14 points (3 goals) for the month.

Puck drop:
Schneider's response to a heavy workload drew praise from his teammates after Tuesday's win.

"He wants 40 or 50 (shots)," defenseman Kevin Bieksa told the Vancouver Province. "It's good for his stats, it's good for his confidence.

"No, I'm just kidding. We want to tighten up a little bit. We're not happy with (48) shots. But he's playing unbelievable right now. You can't say enough about him."

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