Goals in Thursday night’s meeting between the Vancouver Canucks
and Nashville Predators figure to be at a premium, especially based
on the first time these teams faced off.
Roberto Luongo outdueled Pekka Rinne last month, and these
goalies could match up again when the Canucks open a four-game
Nashville (11-9-6) is the NHL’s lowest scoring team at 2.2 goals
per game while Vancouver (12-7-6) has scored two or fewer goals in
five straight games and is 0 for 22 on the power play in its last
It’s probably not surprising then that Vancouver won 1-0 in the
first meeting Feb. 22. Both goalies made 23 saves, but Dale Weise
beat Rinne for the lone goal in the third period.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault had started Cory Schneider in five
of six games before turning Tuesday to Luongo. The veteran came
through with 26 saves in an effort his coach said was “excellent”
as Vancouver ended a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 shootout
victory at Columbus.
“We needed one,” Luongo said. “You don’t want to go on a losing
streak. That’s no fun to be around in times like that. We knew it
was going to take an ugly one to get out of it and now hopefully we
can get things rolling here.”
Rinne, meanwhile, posted his second shutout in three starts with
32 saves Tuesday in a 4-0 victory at Dallas in the opener of a
five-game trip. The Predators ended an 0-5-1 road slide in which
they scored one goal or none five times.
Four different Nashville skaters scored and David Legwand and
Craig Smith each had two assists. The Predators were 4 for 4 on the
“It’s a huge trip for us. It’s obviously nice to get that first
game right away, get a big win. This is what we needed,” said
Rinne, who has allowed one goal in his last three outings. “We
scored timely goals, and our penalty kill tonight was really
Shea Weber and Gabriel Bourque scored on the power play while
Nashville’s penalty kill came through after yielding goals in 10
consecutive road games prior to Tuesday.
“We need our special teams to be good, and they ended up being
pretty good on both ends,” coach Barry Trotz said. “The best
penalty killer was obviously our goaltender, who was outstanding.
But a lot of guys contributed.”
Henrik Sedin had a seven-game point streak end Tuesday for
Vancouver, which is enduring its longest stretch of scoring two
goals or fewer since doing so for six straight games Nov. 23-Dec.
Vigneault insists that his club will turn it around.
“Our psyche was good,” he said. “We’ve been playing better
hockey than what people think.”
Rinne is 2-2-0 with a 3.66 goals-against average in five career
regular-season starts at Vancouver although he went 2-1-0 with a
1.41 GAA there in the 2011 playoffs.
Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa has missed five straight games
with a groin injury.
The Predators’ Paul Gaustad left Tuesday after the second period
with an upper body injury and didn’t return.