Canucks-Predators Preview

Coach John Tortorella was pleased with how the Vancouver Canucks

responded from an ugly defeat, led by a strong penalty-killing unit

that has been among the best in the league.

Vancouver concludes a four-game road trip Tuesday night looking

for a fourth straight victory over the Nashville Predators, who

again may be without star defenseman Shea Weber.

The Canucks (14-10-5) lost for the eighth time in 10 games with

Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, whom Tortorella

coached for the previous four-plus seasons.

Sunday’s contest went much better, as Ryan Kesler scored twice

and Vancouver killed off all six short-handed situations in a 3-2

win over Carolina.

“It was god-awful (Saturday) afternoon, and really one of the

few times it has been this year,” Tortorella said. “But (Sunday),

it was outstanding. We struggled a bit to get the momentum back

after those penalties, but I thought our power play and our penalty

kill were the key to the win.”

The Canucks haven’t been able to build off a victory in quite a

while, however. Vancouver hasn’t earned consecutive wins since a

four-game run from Oct. 22-28.

Though the Canucks have struggled overall lately, their penalty

kill is 50 of 54 over their last 16 games and that unit ranks among

the best in the league, killing off 88.8 percent of opponents’

power plays.

“We study the other teams quite well,” defenseman Dan Hamhuis

said. “We have guys that are smart that read the plays and get in

good position. We’re a committed group that’s willing to block

shots. You always need a good goalie, too, to have a successful

penalty kill, and we’ve had that.”

Eddie Lack made 29 saves Sunday, though Roberto Luongo should be

back in net for this contest. Luongo was pulled after giving up

three goals on 10 shots against the Rangers.

He’s 6-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average in his last seven

starts against the Predators – including the postseason – and has

won each contest during Vancouver’s three-game winning streak in

the series.

The Canucks have won seven of the last eight road meetings with

Nashville, which is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Philadelphia

on Saturday. The Predators played without Weber, who suffered an

eye injury after being hit with a puck in Thursday’s 3-0 loss to


Marek Mazanec made 22 saves against the Flyers for a Nashville

team that also has been without goaltender Pekka Rinne since Oct.

24 because of a hip infection.

”When you lose your two All-Stars, everybody has to pick up the

slack, but I think everybody becomes a little bit more aware,”

winger Colin Wilson said. ”Everybody is taking care of the `D’

zone and being more detailed. I think we saw that (Sunday) the way

everybody was playing and playing as a unit.”

The Predators went 0 for 5 on the power play and are 1 for 12

with the man advantage over their last five.

“I thought we probably deserved a better fate,” coach Barry

Trotz said. “We played well enough with the young defense. I

thought our young defense played pretty well. I thought our

forwards played pretty well.”

Nashville is 5 for 57 on the power play in its last 17 meetings

with Vancouver, including playoffs.