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Canucks return home to face Predators

by Matthew Mankiewich

PREDATORS (11-9-6) at CANUCKS (12-7-6)

TV: FS-Tennessee, TSN

Last 10: Nashville 4-5-1, Vancouver 4-4-2

Season series: Second matchup of three, and the only one at Rogers Arena this season. Last time out, Roberto Luongo outdueled Pekka Rinne 1-0 at Bridgestone Arena. Dale Weise had the game's lone goal.

Big story: The Predators have long been known for riding their defense and scoring just enough goals to win, and the long-vaunted Vancouver offense has had to take on a similar style as it goes through a prolonged slump. It worked last time the two teams met, as the Canucks made a point of playing Nashville’s brand of hockey in its home arena. Now that the Preds have opened up a five-game road trip with a breakout win in Dallas, will this one play the same?

Team Scope:

Predators: The stats will tell you that the Predators on average are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL at 2.2 goals per game. The past three games tell a different story. While their 2.15 goals allowed per game is third-stingiest in the National Hockey League and got a boost thanks to the one goal allowed in those three games. The 12 goals scored might not be so in character.

Especially on the road, where the Preds began their trip with a 4-0 drubbing of the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. That ended an 0-5-1 stretch away from Bridgestone Arena in which, save for the goals scored in a 6-5 loss in Colorado on Feb. 18, they scored no more than one per game. More surprisingly, the four-goal barrage came without top scorers Colin Wilson or Patric Hornqvist in the lineup.

“It’s a huge trip for us, and it’s obviously nice to get that first game right away and get a big win. This is what we needed,” Rinne told The Tennesseean. The Predators’ star goaltender had 32 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and second in three outings.

“We scored some timely goals, and our penalty kill tonight was really good. A couple of big goals, and that was the game tonight.”

Canucks: It was no surprise the Canucks went into Columbus on Tuesday reeling from a four-game losing streak. They had failed to score more than two goals in any of those games and were 0-for-22 on the power play. Coach Alain Vigneault decided to give Cory Schneider a break and went with Roberto Luongo. They still didn't score more than two, but Luongo's 26 saves kept it going long enough for the Canucks to pull out a 2-1 shootout win.

"We needed one," Luongo said. "You don't want to go on a losing streak. That's no fun to be around in times like that. We knew it was going to take an ugly one to get out of it and now hopefully we can get things rolling here."

Who's hot: Shea Weber was one of four scorers in the Dallas win and extended his point streak to four games, with all the other points coming on assists (five). David Legwand picked up a pair of assists in that game to go with the goals he scored in each of the previous two. … Henrik Sedin had his seven-game point streak snapped in Columbus, but he still has points in 11 of 13 games.

Injury report: Hornqvist (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Monday with no expected return date, while Wilson (upper body) is expected to be out through the weekend. Forward Paul Gaustad (upper body) left the Stars’ game and is day-to-day. … Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (groin) is still day-to-day, while forward Ryan Kesler (foot) is out indefinitely.

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