Losing to the team with the worst record in the NHL halted a great deal of the Vancouver Canucks’ momentum during this four-game road trip. A visit to the Nashville Predators, however, could be just what they need to rebound.
The Canucks look to end this trip with a third victory Tuesday night when they try to re-establish their success against the Predators.
Vancouver (16-13-0) had won only four of 12 road games before starting this trip in impressive fashion by beating New Jersey and Philadelphia before suffering a letdown with Saturday’s 5-3 loss at league-worst Carolina. The Canucks gave up three second-period goals to the Hurricanes after giving up a total of two in the previous two games.
“I thought we were a little sloppy and we didn’t get pucks deep and didn’t get our cycle game going,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “Any time you play on the road in this league it’s not easy and we’ve got a lot of character in there and we gave it a good push in the third, but the second period really hurt us.”
The Canucks have a chance to rebound before returning to Vancouver to start a season-high eight-game homestand against Atlanta on Thursday. Vancouver has won its last four games at Nashville (16-11-2) and had won six straight overall versus the Predators before a 5-3 loss on Jan. 28 in the final meeting last season.
Alex Burrows has been a big part of Vancouver’s success against Nashville, scoring four goals in the last seven matchups. The left wing is entering this contest enjoying perhaps his best stretch of the season. He’s on a three-game goal streak and has netted five goals in the last six games after getting only one in the previous 18.
The Predators are trying to show some improvement at home, where they’ve lost three of four after winning seven in a row.
They got this four-game homestand off to a poor start Saturday, losing 5-3 to Minnesota after giving up five consecutive goals in a 25:11 span following a promising 1-0 lead midway through the first period.
“We just came out flat,” right wing Martin Erat said. “We scored the first goal, but we didn’t play well.”
Erat has been a bright spot for Nashville recently, getting two goals and two assists over the last three games. He has five goals and four assists in the last nine contests, and five of his six goals on the season have come at home.
Erat has four goals and six assists in his last 11 games against Vancouver.
The Predators could use some consistency in goal, where Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne have struggled recently.
Ellis gave up four goals on 28 shots Saturday before being pulled after the second period. That performance came one night after he made 34 saves in a 4-1 win at Chicago.
Rinne, who stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief against Minnesota, is 0-2-1 with a 3.92 goals-against average in his last four games – three starts. He’s lost his last four games to Vancouver while posting a 4.24 GAA, while Ellis has split two starts with a 2.54 GAA.