Unless the Vancouver Canucks can quickly find a cure to their prolonged slump, they’re certain to miss out on the postseason for the first time in six years.
The Nashville Predators have already all but squandered any remaining hopes of reaching the playoffs.
Vancouver hosts Nashville on Wednesday night in a matchup of sliding Western Conference clubs.
The Canucks (31-30-10) are five points back of Phoenix for the conference’s second wild-card spot and also trail Dallas, which is three points ahead of them. They were in possession of the first wild-card position and just a point behind Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific Division before going 4-13-1 over the last 18 contests. Now a top-three divisional finish is an afterthought with 10 points separating them from the Kings.
Vancouver is returning from a four-game trip after a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday, but has also lost five of seven at home. All of the Canucks’ goals came in the third period, which they entered trailing 3-0. They fell behind 1-0 at the 17:56 mark of the first on Steven Stamkos’ power-play goal and have now allowed 11 goals on the man advantage on 40 opportunities over their last 10 games.
"We know we still have a chance, but obviously we need to string wins together, and not just three, four or five," said Jannik Hansen, who had a short-handed goal.
"We need to start winning games and a lot of them," he said.
Alexandre Burrows scored twice and assisted on Hansen’s goal in Vancouver’s third game without Ryan Kesler after he suffered a sprained knee in last Wednesday’s loss at Winnipeg. Burrows has five goals and four assists over his last five games after tallying just one point in his previous five contests.
With a 5-1 loss Tuesday at Edmonton, the Predators (29-29-10) essentially eliminated any legitimate chance of making the playoffs and appear set to miss out on the postseason for a second straight year for the first time since 2003.
Pekka Rinne was pulled in the third period after surrendering five goals on 26 shots, while Carter Hutton made four saves in relief.
Nashville’s lone goal came from Gabriel Bourque as the team was scoreless on five power plays, falling to 2 for 29 over the last nine games.
"It wasn’t a good effort," forward Mike Fisher said. "We didn’t do too many good things out there, we turned the puck over. We didn’t do too many good things defensively and they buried them when they got chances. They played pretty well."
The Predators are scoring on just 6.1 of their shots during their last nine contests, with top three goal-scorers Craig Smith, Fisher and Shea Weber combining for only four goals on 71 shots. Weber, who is third on the club with 16 goals, has scored just once over his last 13 contests.
Nick Spaling has three goals and an assist in his last four matchups with the Canucks after recording two points in his first 11 career meetings.
The Predators ended a four-game series losing streak with a 2-1 win in Vancouver on Jan. 23.