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Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Nashville Predators (33-26-10-3) at Vancouver Canucks (37-22-9-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 10 p.m. EST.

The Nashville Predators thought they were on track to earn their first postseason appearance a year ago, but faltered down the stretch.

They hope history isn't repeating itself.

Nashville looks to snap a five-game winless streak as it continues to battle for one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference when it visits the Vancouver Canucks.

On March 7 of last season, Nashville moved two games over .500 with a 2-1 road win over the Dallas Stars, and was right in the thick of the Western playoff race.

The Predators, however, went winless in their last 15 games and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season since joining the NHL in 1998-99.

This season, Nashville moved up to sixth in the conference after beating the New York Rangers 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 28. But the Predators have just one win in eight games since, and are tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the seventh playoff spot in the West.

The St. Louis Blues, who are one point behind Nashville and Los Angeles, visit the Kings on Tuesday.

Nashville lost 3-2 in overtime on Sunday to the Detroit Red Wings to fall to 0-2-2-1 in its last five contests.

"You don't want to slide at all," Predators forward Scott Walker said. "We're going to stay positive. It's too late in the year to start being negative."

Nashville will be looking to end its slide in a place it is 2-9 all-time. The Predators have lost seven straight in Vancouver since a 2-1 win on Jan. 23, 2000, are have dropped four in a row to the Canucks overall.

Vancouver, however, comes into this contest with just two wins in its last seven games.

The recent slide has dropped the Canucks six points behind the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Northwest Division. Vancouver currently holds the No. 4 seed in the West.

The Canucks lost 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators at home on Saturday, their first defeat (1-1-1) since star forward Todd Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs for a sucker punch that left Colorado forward Steve Moore in the hospital with fractured vertebrae, a concussion and deep cuts on his face.

Vancouver has missed Bertuzzi's 245-pound presence on the power play, as it finished 0-for-3 against the Senators and is 1-for-10 with the man advantage without Bertuzzi.

"It's a big difference when you don't have Todd going in and getting pucks and standing in front," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said.

STANDINGS: Predators - 79 points, 2nd place, 17 PB, Central Division. Canucks - 87 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Steve Sullivan, 23 goals, 41 assists and 64 points; Jordin Tootoo, 127 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 32 goals, 45 assists and 77 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 129 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 14): Predators - Power play: 18.1 percent (69 for 382), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (264 for 322), 24th. Canucks - Power play: 15.5 percent (53 for 343), 20th. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (280 for 326), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (30-25-9, 3 SO, 2.56 GAA); Chris Mason (3-4-1, 1, 2.28). Canucks - Dan Cloutier (27-20-5, 4, 2.38); Johan Hedberg (8-5-2, 3, 2.30).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 25; Canucks, 4-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Brent Sopel scored twice and added an assist, and Naslund recorded three assists to lead the Canucks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 12-18-3-2 on the road; Canucks - 17-12-6-0 at home.

Associated Press
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