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Predators hope to end skid against Canucks

by John Manasso /

CANUCKS (23-12-6) at PREDATORS (15-20-8)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-3-0, Nashville 1-7-2

Season series: This is the third of three meetings. The Vancouver Canucks have won both showdowns, 1-0 on Feb. 22 at Bridgestone Arena and 7-4 at Rogers Arena on March 14.

Big story: After losing to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday 4-3 – the first time in which the Canucks lost in regulation to the Avalanche in more than three-and-a-half years – the Canucks are focused on getting back on track. They blew third-period leads of 2-1 and 3-2 in that game. Nashville has won one of its past 10 games and lost six straight in regulation.

Team Scope:

Canucks: At practice on Sunday, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault experimented with using Ryan Kesler on the right wing with Alex Burrows on the left and Derek Roy at center.

“Just something that this morning the coaches talked about 5-on-5 [Saturday] night, especially out there we want to play very efficiently both offensively and defensively,” Vigneault said after practice on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena, “so just a couple of options out there today and we’ll meet as coaches and figure out what we’re going to do tomorrow.”

Roy went minus-2 in the loss on Saturday and Burrows went minus-1. They were on ice in the third period for both the tying and game-winning goals by Colorado. Kesler also was a minus-2 and was with the other two on the ice for the game-winner, but he is a former winner of the Selke Trophy as the League’s top defensive forward. He has played three games since returning from a broken foot on April 8. Vigneault said he also likes what Kesler can do on the wing by getting in faster on the forecheck.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo, who started one of 11 games between March 19 and April 8, will start for the second time in three games.

Predators: Chris Mason could get the start in goal, although Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he was undecided after the game on Sunday. Trotz had said prior to this stretch of three games in four days (all at home) that he thought Mason would start two of the three. In his fourth start of the season, Mason gave up five goals on 18 shots on Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Pekka Rinne started in goal on Sunday in a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville’s offensive woes continue. They have scored six goals in their past six games and have been shut out three times in that span. The Predators have been blanked a League-high nine times.

“We have had a lot of (scoring chances) over the past few games but we still have not found a way to score,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “We just have to find a way. We just have to find a way to help Pekka out and Mason as well.”

Who’s hot: For Vancouver, defenseman Dan Hamhuis has a five-game points streak (two goals, three assists). Defenseman Jason Garrison also has five points in his past five games (one goal, four assists). Burrows has five goals and two assists in his past 10 games. Kesler has four points in his past three games (one goal, three assists). Daniel Sedin has five assists and one goal in his past five games. Henrik Sedin has two goals and six assists in his past five games. … For Nashville center David Legwand has three goals and three assists in his past seven games. Rinne has allowed 12 goals in his past six starts.

Injury report: For Vancouver, left wing David Booth has missed 14 games with an ankle injury. Fellow left wing Chris Higgins has missed the last two with a lower-body injury and defenseman Chris Tanev has missed the last three with a lower-body injury. … For Nashville, Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad are out. Center Mike Fisher (upper body), right wing Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and wing Brandon Yip (lower body) also will likely be out.

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