Canucks-Predators Preview

The Vancouver Canucks are in position to set a franchise record

for consecutive road wins while the Nashville Predators are one of

the NHL’s hottest teams with six victories in a row overall.

The Canucks can notch the club record Tuesday night against a

Predators team closing in on its sixth playoff berth in seven

seasons.

Vancouver (50-17-9) continues to boast the best record in the

NHL after its third straight win, 4-1 at Columbus on Sunday. The

Canucks matched their franchise-best eight-game road win streak set

Dec. 20, 2003-Jan. 13, 2004 despite being outshot 40-24 by the

lowly Blue Jackets.

“Just another ugly road win out there and they’re not all going

to be perfect,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “I think a lot of

people forget there’s two teams on the ice sometimes and expect us

to dominate.”

Nashville (41-25-10) is 8-1-0 in its last nine as it tries to

win seven straight for the first time since Nov. 12-25, 2009. The

Predators have moved into a fifth-place tie with Los Angeles in the

Western Conference.

“Everybody’s contributing and that’s huge right now for us,”

coach Barry Trotz said. “Our big guys are playing big and our role

guys are playing out their role, and everybody’s doing the right

things.”

The Canucks have been using the stretch run to give Roberto

Luongo some time off. Backup Cory Schneider made 39 saves Sunday

for his sixth straight victory.

“It’s funny, you could even call him our most valuable player,

being the backup goalie,” Bieksa said. “He’s allowed us to give

Roberto a lot of days off and keep him fresh. It feels like he wins

every game when he’s in there.”

The Sedin brothers have seen their ice time reduced on this road

trip, with Henrik logging more than 18 minutes once and Daniel not

reaching that plateau in three games. Daniel Sedin is four points

shy of becoming the league’s first player to reach 100 this season

while Henrik is tied for second in the league with 89 points.

The brothers have combined for just one goal and two assists in

2010-11 against Nashville, which leads the season series 2-1-0.

Each game had four total goals or fewer, with the Predators going 0

for 9 on the power play and the Canucks 1 for 11.

Luongo started those three games, posting a 2.02 goals-against

average. Schneider has never faced the Predators.

Pekka Rinne had a 1.01 GAA while opposing Luongo in all three

meetings. He’s the only goalie to shut out the Canucks over the

last two months with 29 saves in a 3-0 win March 3.

Rinne has won five straight starts, making 34 saves in a 5-4 win

over Anaheim on Thursday and 28 in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over

Dallas.

The Ducks and Stars are among a group of teams chasing Nashville

for a playoff spot. The Predators want to make sure they remain in

front.

“You’re always concerned about a letdown,” Trotz said. “It’s our

job as coaches and their job as players and in our leadership group

(to) make sure that the focus stays. Until we cross that finish

line, we have to be really good.”