The Vancouver Canucks didn’t make the most of a five-game homestand, which ended with a pair of losses to beatable opponents.
That leaves them with the tall task of correcting things Tuesday night as they begin a five-game trip in Nashville, where the Predators have posted the best home record in hockey to pace their league-best 60 points through the first half of their season.
The Predators (28-9-4) have won five straight at home to build a 16-2-1 record at Bridgestone Arena, though it hasn’t much mattered where they’ve played lately. They’re 6-0-2 since last losing in regulation Dec. 23 in Boston, and plenty of it has had to do with consistent offensive production with an average of 4.0 goals over an 11-game stretch.
They didn’t consider Saturday’s 3-1 win in Minnesota one of their best efforts, but it was good enough to put them in a position to match a season-best four-game winning streak.
"We’re going to have our off nights, but when we have those off nights we still find a way to win," said Colin Wilson, who had a goal and an assist to give him 13 points in his last 10 games. "That’s why we’re at where we’re at."
Mike Fisher also scored and has seven goals and five assists in his past 14 contests.
Of course, having Pekka Rinne in goal most nights doesn’t hurt, as was the case with a 36-save effort against the Wild.
It’s been a month since the Predators last lost in regulation with Rinne in the net, going 9-0-1 following a 2-0 loss in San Jose on Dec. 13. The All-Star’s numbers haven’t been quite as sharp in that time with a 2.55 goals-against average after posting a 1.75 GAA in his first 26 games, but the offense has provided plenty of support and helped ease the NHL wins leader’s mind.
"You feel happy," Rinne said of his demeanor as part of a team that has helped him to 28 wins. "You come to the rink with a smile on your face, and it makes a huge difference."
Rinne helped Nashville to a 3-1 win in Vancouver on Nov. 2, but he’s 2-4-1 with a 3.56 GAA in his last nine starts in the series.
Filip Forsberg had two goals and an assist while James Neal added two assists in that meeting, Nashville’s second win in the last seven matchups.
This season, the Predators have gone 8-2-2 against the Pacific Division while the Canucks are 3-4-0 against the Central.
Vancouver (23-14-3) will try to reach its own halfway point with a better offensive effort after concluding a 2-3-0 homestand with one goal in consecutive losses to Florida and Calgary. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to the Flames wasted a strong effort from Eddie Lack, who made 22 saves while Ryan Miller rested with flu-like symptoms.
"It’s frustrating," said Henrik Sedin, who has 15 points in his last 11 against Nashville. "We know how big every point is. To not get two from this game is disappointing, for sure."
Miller will face the Predators and brings a 1.86 GAA over a 4-2-1 span. He didn’t play in November’s meeting, and is 4-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA lifetime in Nashville.
One area Nashville has been lacking at home has been on the power play. The Predators are 5 for 61 (8.2 percent) there, while Vancouver’s penalty kill is 47 for 50 (94.0) over the last 16 games.
Neal has missed five games with a lower-body injury, but he practiced Monday. The left wing has five points on a four-game streak against Vancouver.