Canucks try to bounce back against punchless Preds
(Sports Network) - The first-place Vancouver Canucks will try to rebound from a tough loss when they visit the sliding Nashville Predators for Monday's battle at Bridgestone Arena.
The Canucks lead the Northwest Division and had won four in a row before dropping Saturday's 4-3 decision at Colorado. Vancouver held a 2-1 lead after two periods and also was ahead 3-2 in the third before allowing the Avalanche to score two unanswered goals in the final 7:03 of regulation. The winning tally by Jan Hejda came with just eight seconds left.
With the final seconds ticking away, Colorado was able to keep the puck in the Vancouver zone. David Jones dropped the puck back to Hejda near the blue line on the left side of the ice. Hejda, who had gone 54 games without a goal, ripped a one-timer past Cory Schneider for the game-winner.
"It seemed like we had a few brain cramps today. Our team's strength is when we play well in our end, but we did not do that today," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said.
Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen and Jason Garrison scored one goal apiece for the Canucks, who enter Monday with a five-point lead over Minnesota for the top spot in the division. Both teams have seven games left in the regular season and the Wild also play Monday in Calgary.
Schneider allowed all four goals on 26 shots in Saturday's setback.
Vancouver is playing the third test of a five-game road trip on Monday and is 10-7-3 as the guest this season.
The Canucks have claimed victory in three of their past four trips to Nashville, including a 1-0 regulation win when the clubs last met in the Music City on Feb. 22. Vancouver added a 7-4 home win over the Predators on March 14, giving the Canucks wins in five of the last seven meetings in this series.
Nashville has lost six straight in regulation and is close to being officially eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race. The Predators are nine points out of the West's eighth seed with only five games left on their schedule.
On Sunday, the Predators dropped a 3-0 decision against the visiting Detroit Red Wings, who are currently tied for the eighth seed. Nashville fired 22 shots at Jimmy Howard, but the Detroit netminder stopped every one to record his third career shutout against the Preds. It was the third time Nashville has been blanked over its last five games.
Pekka Rinne stopped 29-of-31 shots but it wasn't enough for the Predators, who have lost nine of their last 10.
Nashville was playing with five rookies on Sunday and highly-touted prospect Filip Forsberg made his NHL debut. Forsberg was selected by Washington with the 11th overall pick of the 2012 draft before being acquired by the Preds at this season's trade deadline for veteran forward Martin Erat.
Forsberg logged 18 minutes and 37 seconds of ice time in his debut and recorded two shots on net. He also was a minus-2.
"The guys we're looking at, we're going to have to make decisions on," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. "They're showing what they can and cannot do. That's the positive. It's not a great answer for the fans from that standpoint, but it's reality."
The Predators are 10-8-4 as the hosts this season and are completing a four- game homestand on Monday. Nashville will play three of four on the road to end the season.
Nashville forward Mike Fisher has missed the last four games with a hand injury and is questionable for tonight. Fellow forward Brandon Yip is also questionable after sitting out the last three games with a lower body injury.