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Wednesday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Nashville Predators (47-20-6) at Vancouver Canucks (44-23-6), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two Western Conference teams holding onto slim advantages in their respective divisions will get together this evening at Vancouver's General Motors Place, where the Northwest-leading Canucks host a key late- season showdown with the Nashville Predators.

Nashville remains the frontrunner in the West with 100 points, but the Predators have a serious challenge on their hands in both the conference and Central Division races. The club is just one point in front of Detroit in the Central standings and only two better than Pacific leader Anaheim.

The Predators can also officially seal up a playoff spot tonight. In fact, the only thing that can stop Nashville from clinching a postseason berth this evening would be a regulation loss by the Predators combined with a Colorado victory in Edmonton.

The Preds were able to obtain a much-needed win on Saturday, when they edged Dallas Stars at home by a 3-2 count. Kimmo Timonen scored twice to lead the way, while Jordin Tootoo had the other goal for Nashville.

Tootoo will not play in tonight's tilt, however, as the rugged winger was handed a five-game suspension by the NHL for punching Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas in the face. He will be eligible to return when the Predators again host Dallas on March 31.

Tomas Vokoun racked up 34 saves to help Nashville put an end to a two-game slide.

The Predators, who own a strong 21-14-2 road record on the season, play the first of three straight away games this evening. Nashville will also visit Northwest Division members Calgary and Edmonton on the trek.

Vancouver is a stellar 8-1-1 so far in March, but the club has still been unable to pull away from red-hot Minnesota in the Northwest race. The Canucks own a one-point edge on the Wild for the division's top spot and are six points behind Nashville in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the West.

The Canucks posted their third victory in a row with Monday's 2-1 road decision over the dismal Edmonton Oilers. Daniel Sedin paced the offense with a goal and an assist, while Roberto Luongo turned aside 36-of-37 shots between the pipes.

Henrik Sedin assisted on both Vancouver goals and Trevor Linden also scored in the triumph.

The Canucks have posted wins in seven of their last eight games at GM Place and bring an outstanding 24-9-3 home mark into this contest.

Nashville did earn a 3-2 decision in Vancouver back in October, however, and has won five of the last seven overall meetings in this series.

03/21 10:50:30 ET


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