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Predators, Canucks aim to stay in playoff race

by John Kreiser

PREDATORS (29-30-10) at CANUCKS (31-30-10)


Last 10: Nashville 4-6-0; Vancouver 3-6-1

Season series: It's the third and final game of the season between the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks. The road team has won each of the first two. Nashville's 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena ended a four-game losing streak to the Canucks.

Big story: Each team is watching its hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs fade away. Vancouver is back home after a 4-3 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and begins the night five points out of the second wild-card position in the Western Conference. The Predators are eight points out of a playoff berth after being routed by the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Predators: The best thing about the 5-1 loss to the Oilers is that coach Barry Trotz and his players won't have much time to dwell on it.

"We had a lot of no-shows, guys that didn't play to their capabilities and that's not good enough for us," coach Barry Trotz said.

Nashville trailed 1-0 after one period and 3-1 after two; Jordan Eberle added two goals in the third period to send starting goaltender Pekka Rinne to the bench after allowing five goals on 26 shots.

"It was obviously not the best game for myself," Rinne said. "I'm disappointed for sure. It's the way it goes I guess once in a while, but it's not acceptable. It's a little bit embarrassing too."

Canucks: The loss to the Lightning was another nail in the coffin of Vancouver's hopes for a sixth straight trip to the playoffs. Part of the problem has been that rookie goaltender Eddie Lack, who was terrific as a backup for Roberto Luongo, has struggled since becoming the starter following the trade that sent Luongo to the Florida Panthers.

Lack's goals-against average in seven games since the trade is 3.68. His save percentage is .862.

Despite Lack's struggles, coach John Tortorella says he still has confidence in Lack. Tortorella has yet to start Jacob Markstrom, who came from Florida in the Luongo trade.

"This is part of his development as far as being a No. 1 – to understand some of the workload it's going to take," Tortorella told the media when asked about Lack. "It's going to take some time, but we feel he has the ability and we're going to go through the process with him."

Who's hot: Defenseman Shea Weber has a goal and four points in Nashville's past four games … Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows, who went without a goal in his first 35 games this season, has five in his past five games. That includes two in the third period at Tampa Bay.

Injury report: The Canucks are missing defensemen Christopher Tanev (hand) and Andrew Alberts (concussion), centers Ryan Kesler (knee) and Mike Santorelli (season-ending shoulder surgery), and first-line left wing Daniel Sedin (knee).

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