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Canucks' long trip continues in Nashville

by Matthew Mankiewich
CANUCKS (29-23-2) at PREDATORS (35-24-5)

Last 10 -- Vancouver 5-5-0, Nashville 5-3-2.

Season Series -- The Canucks continue their 14-game North American tour looking for a split of their series with the Predators. So far, they've alternated wins and losses, with the Preds taking two out of three. They've won three of four since dropping six straight dating back to 2007.

Big Story -- One thing these two teams have in common is the Detroit Red Wings, as both have faced them this past week. The Canucks had the Detroiters shaking their heads after a dominant 6-3 win, while the Predators couldn't distance themselves from their pursuers in the standings on Friday, dropping a 5-2 decision. The Canucks then went from feast in Detroit to famine in Chicago, as they suffered 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Blackhawks.

Team scope:

Canucks -- Keeping serve on the road is hard enough when the trip is three or four games, but the Canucks have managed a 6-5-0 mark so far. The only alarming thing is that Luongo has been pulled in three games of the eight he's started on this trip so far. Don't forget, though, that a five-win 1.74-GAA run to an Olympic gold medal is sandwiched in there somewhere.

And the five goals Chicago scored in the first period on Friday can't all be placed on Luongo's shoulders. Some horrible defensive mistakes played a role as well.

"I don't think we had a great period and I don't think we were ready to play," said Luongo, who was pulled after the first. "Unfortunately, I felt good. That's the sad part. I felt ready. I felt sharp. And the goals kept going in.

"I didn't want to be in there for a dozen, so you might as well take me out after the first."

Predators -- Just like the Canucks' lapses in Chicago or the Wings' lapses against the Canucks, two big defensive slip-ups did the Preds in at the Joe on Friday.

The first was a pick-pocket job by Pavel Datsyuk on Kevin Klein as the latter tried to come out from behind the net with the puck. A couple of dekes and Datsyuk had a goal. Ryan Suter tried to get control of a rebound in front of the net in the second period, but Darren Helm redirected it into the net.

"They had a few lucky bounces," J. P. Dumont said. "Good for them, bad for us."

Worse for the Predators, defenseman Shea Weber, one of Team Canada's heroes in the Olympics, left the game during the second period with an upper-body injury, shaking his left hand as he skated off the ice.

"It was something that started (on Thursday) and I started playing through it, but I reaggravated it (Friday),'' Weber told The Tennesseean. He was scheduled to be re-evaluated Saturday for a game-time decision Sunday.

Who's hot -- Ryan Kesler made a name for himself as part of Team USA, but back in a Canucks uniform, he continues to chug along with a career-best nine-game points streak. He's also become quite the road warrior with nine goals and 14 assists in 33 away games this season. Four Canucks have a points streak of at least three games.

Pekka Rinne has started eight of the Preds' last 11 games, with a 4-2-2 record. Jason Arnott has six points in his last four home games.

Injury report -- Canucks forward Steve Bernier sat out a second game in a row due to an abdominal injury and has returned to Vancouver for evaluation.

Stat pack -- Henrik Sedin has a goal and 10 assists in his last seven games against Nashville including last year's season series. Daniel has three goals and six assists. Alex Burrows has four goals and two assists. Martin Erat has four goals and three assists, while Steve Sullivan has 10 points in his last 10 games against the 'Nucks and 30 points (15g-15a) lifetime.

Barry Trotz, Nashville's coach since the beginning, is one win away from 400, which would make him the seventh coach in NHL history to win 400 games with one team. 

Puck drop -- Both teams are coming off performances they'd like to forget and both need to bounce back quickly to maintain their positions in the standings. The Predators have traditionally been a strong home team and with a major milestone for their only coach in sight, they should be ready to protect home ice.

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