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Preview: Canucks at Predators

Forward Vernon Fiddler makes Nashville season debut; Vancouver defenseman Ben Hutton returns

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

CANUCKS (23-23-6) at PREDATORS (25-19-8)

8 p.m. ET; SNP, FS-TN, NHL.TV

 

Canucks team scope

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton will return to the lineup after missing 11 games with a hand injury. "It's been a long time," Hutton said. "It's been a tough time just sitting out watching, but I'm excited to get back in the lineup and try and help the guys get some points on the board." Hutton, who has not played since Jan. 6, has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 41 games this season and will play on Vancouver's third defense pair with Nikita Tryamkin. The Canucks begin a six-game road trip having lost three straight, are 3-5-3 in their past 11 games and are five points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "If you struggle, there has to come a time where you get out of that struggle," goaltender Jacob Markstrom said. "We all believe that this road trip is going to be the turning point for us. This time of the year, every game is super important, road or home. The points are huge, and we all know what's at stake right now. We're below the playoffs right now, and we want to get back in. We know what we need to do."

 

Predators team scope

Forward Vernon Fiddler is expected to make his Nashville Predators season debut. He was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Saturday for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Fiddler, 36, spent parts of six seasons with the Predators from 2002-09 and is excited to be back where he began his NHL career. "It's been great," Fiddler said. "I got the news a couple days ago there, and I'm very excited to be back. My career started here and I had lots of great memories. I'm looking forward to making some more." Fiddler is expected to center Nashville's fourth line between Cody McLeod and Austin Watson. The Predators have gone 4-1-1 in their past six home games and are 14-6-6 at Bridgestone Arena this season. Nashville is one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Central Division.

 

Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Loui Eriksson

Markus Granlund - Brandon Sutter - Jannik Hansen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Alexandre Burrows

Jayson Megna - Michael Chaput - Jack Skille

Alexander Edler - Troy Stetcher

Luca Sbisa - Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton - Nikita Tryamkin

Jacob Markstrom

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Alex Biega, Reid Boucher, Philip Larsen

Injured: Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Anton Rodin (knee)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Colton Sissons - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith

Colin Wilson - Calle Jarnkrok - Viktor Arvidsson

Cody McLeod - Vernon Fiddler - Austin Watson

Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin - Ryan Ellis

Roman Josi - Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Pontus Aberg, Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt

Injured: Harry Zolnierczyk (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (lower body)

 

Status report

The Canucks and Predators each held an optional morning skate. … The Predators placed Zolnierczyk on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury and recalled Aberg, a forward, from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

 

Who's hot

Sutter scored two goals in the Canucks' 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. … Johansen has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past seven games and leads the Predators with 38 points (nine goals, 29 assists). 

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