PREDATORS (2-2-1) at CANUCKS (2-3-1)
TV: SPSO, SNET-VAN (HD)
First of four meetings between teams that met in the second round of last spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nashville lost that series in six games, but won two of the three games at Rogers Arena, including Game 2 on a Matt Halischuk
goal at 14:51 of the second overtime. They split the regular-season matchups on the 2010-11 schedule.
Neither team has gotten off to the start it wanted -- the Predators have lost three in a row after winning their first two on the road, while the Canucks have lost four of six and had to battle hard just to edge the winless Blue Jackets and rebuilding Oilers.
On the strength of a Sergei Kostitsyn
goal and a shutout effort by Pekka Rinne
for 40 minutes, Nashville stood poised to grab two points Monday in Edmonton. But the plucky Oilers broke through in the third, solving Rinne for the tying and go-ahead goals, and adding an empty-netter late to deal the Predators a 3-1 defeat. The team has two games left on its Western Canada road trip, which concludes Saturday in Calgary, and is still trying to regain its form.
"It comes down to effort and work ethic and playing desperate hockey," Rinne said. "It's the simple things like fighting for your teammates. Right now we are not doing that and this is the result. Three games in a row now and it is not good. We never really got it going tonight."
Similar to its opponent on Thursday, it was a strong two-period effort for Vancouver in the opener of its three-game homestand against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The Canucks had outshot the Rangers 28-9 heading into the second intermission, but there was one small problem -- they still failed to beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Then, in the third, Roberto Luongo
was touched up for four goals on 10 shots and Lundqvist stopped 12 more shots in what ended as a 4-0 loss.
"He's one of the best in the game, and he played like it," said forward Ryan Kesler
, who made his season debut after rehabbing from hip surgery.
Kostitsyn has a point in each of the Predators' first five games, while Rinne has solid numbers (2.37 goals-against average, .926 save percentage) in playing every minute in goal to this point. … Kesler came back strong for the Canucks on Tuesday, logging 19:07 of ice time, including extended minutes on the power play and killing penalties. He had three shots and won 59 percent (10 of 17) of his faceoffs.
Nashville forwards Martin Erat
(upper body) and Mike Fisher
(shoulder) and defenseman Francis Bouillon
(concussion) are on injured reserve. … Vancouver forwards Mason Raymond
(vertebrae fracture) and Byron Bitz
(groin) and defensemen Aaron Rome
(hand) and Nolan Baumgartner
(foot) are on injured reserve.
The Predators managed just 12 shots in their loss Monday, four of which came on their five power plays. They're averaging just 23 shots this season. … Canucks defenseman Sami Salo
is tied for the team lead in goals (2), tied for third in points (4) and first with a plus-4 rating.
Luongo received national attention for some poor play during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and has allowed at least three goals in all four starts he's made this season, drawing some jeers from the home crowd late in Tuesday's game.
"They're not satisfied with my play, as well as I am not, so I guess they're entitled to that, that's totally fine, I understand that," he said. "It's up to me to pick up my game and make some saves."