Predators-Canucks Preview

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

penalty kill.

“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.

4, 2006.

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.