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Predators try to bounce back against Canucks

by Adam Kimelman
PREDATORS (32-23-9) at CANUCKS (40-15-9)

TV -- FS-Tennessee (HD), SNET-P (HD)

Last 10 --
Nashville 4-4-2; Vancouver 5-5-0

Season series --
This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The teams split their two prior games. On Jan. 26, Roberto Luongo stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 Canucks win in Vancouver. On Feb. 17, Martin Erat had a goal and an assist and Pekka Rinne made 35 saves in a 3-1 win in Nashville.

Big story -- The Predators didn't quite get the start they wanted on their four-game road trip, and need to start picking up points in a hurry. That'll be tough in Vancouver, which is getting some healthy players back and remains the Presidents' Trophy leader.

Team Scope:

Predators --
Even though it at least got a point Tuesday, Nashville's 2-1 shootout loss to the Oilers felt like just that -- a loss.

"These are the games we must win," Rinne told the Tennessean. "It's a big point -- we have to respect that, but right now, it feels like a lost game."

The lone point boosted the Predators into ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind eighth-place Los Angeles. But they realize they could be even higher up the standings if they had come out on top.

"We wanted two points. We need two points every night," coach Barry Trotz told the Tennessean. "We're still trailing the pack by a little bit here, so no, (we) wanted two, got one. One is a little bit better than nothing."

Canucks -- Tuesday's 3-2 shootout defeat of the Blue Jackets kept alive an interesting streak in Vancouver. It's the 11th straight game they've alternated wins and losses. They had lost to the Bruins on Saturday.

"The last two weeks has been a little on and off," team captain Henrik Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. "Every second game we are playing well and it's something we have to bring up and talk about because the playoffs are getting closer and we need to get back to playing well."

The Canucks had to fight for this one Tuesday. Mason Raymond came through in a must-score situation to prolong the shootout, Alexandre Burrows did the same thing in the fifth round, and then Raffi Torres scored the winner in the eighth round.

"We didn't play our best game but we managed to win against a team that is playing really well at the moment," Sedin said. "That's a good thing."

Who's hot --
Predators defenseman Ryan Suter set up the team's lone regulation goal Tuesday, giving him points in three straight games. … Canucks center Manny Malhotra has chipped in with 3 goals and 2 assists in the last seven games.

Injury report -- Predators forward Marcel Goc is out for the season with an upper-body injury, and forward Steve Sullivan is out with a lower-body injury. … Chris Higgins, picked up at the trade deadline from the Panthers, is another 7-10 days away from returning from a thumb injury. Defensemen Kevin Bieksa (foot), Alexander Edler (back) and Andrew Alberts (wrist) are out indefinitely.

Stat pack -- The Canucks had featured the League's best power play for much of the season, but it's in a dry spell now. It's 0-for-7 in its last three games and 2-for-15 in the last five games.

Puck drop -- Maxim Lapierre told the Vancouver Sun he knows what it says about him being traded twice in one season, including Monday's deal that landed him with the Canucks after a short stint with the Ducks. He said he can't worry about what got him moved out of Montreal and Anaheim, and only plans on focusing on how he can help the Canucks.

"What happened in the past is over for me now," Lapierre said. "It's great news I am with this organization now. It's a great hockey team and they are on their way to the (Stanley) Cup this year, so I am glad I am here and I can help. I have to be honest; I haven't been playing my greatest hockey lately. But I know I can help this team and I will do it. We are going into the playoffs and that is my type of game and I will be fine with it.

"I just (play) the system. This is how I roll. I'm going to be doing what's asked for me."

He's expected to play an agitating role as the team's fourth-line center, kill penalties and win faceoffs. Coach Alain Vigneault has no doubts Lapierre will fit in fine with the Canucks.

"I know Max," Vigneault said. "He's a good kid, a real intense young man that plays the game hard. I talked with him this morning and we are going to get him to play whistle to whistle, to play hard.

"He's not the type of player who takes a lot of penalties. He's the type of player who tries to get under the other team's skin and gets them to take penalties. The perception that people might have is that he does talk a lot in between whistles. We are going to keep him focused here."

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