Predators-Canucks Preview

A trip north of the border has helped solve the Nashville Predators' woes away from home and gotten them out of their funk during a road-heavy stretch.

The Vancouver Canucks are more than happy to be back home after traveling for the last week and a half.

Nashville looks to take the first three of a four-game swing through Canada on Tuesday night when it faces a Canucks team that has played well at Rogers Arena lately.

The Predators (22-18-8) began a stretch of playing 11 of 14 on the road with an overtime loss at St. Louis on Dec. 29 and finally will see it end with Wednesday's visit to Calgary. They went 2-6-2 to begin that span but have bounced back with consecutive victories to start this trip, beating Winnipeg on Thursday and Edmonton on Saturday by 4-1 scores.

Ryan Johansen and James Neal had a goal and an assist apiece against the Jets before Filip Forsberg had that same line against the Oilers. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored twice Saturday to support Pekka Rinne, who stopped 49 of 51 shots in the victories.

Rinne had a 3.73 goals-against average while dropping his previous five starts for the Predators, who haven't won three straight road games since March 10-14, 2014. They haven't had a three-game overall winning streak since Oct. 17-22.

"On the road trip, to start 2-0 is huge for us in the position we're in," Ekholm said. "But it's always nice to contribute both offensively and defensively. It wasn't pretty, both my goals weren't really how we drew it up, but we'll take it."

Vancouver (20-18-11) spent 10 days on the road and went 3-2-1 before finally returning home. This will be its last contest before the All-Star break, then it will host Columbus and Calgary in the first two following the layoff.

The Canucks, though, let points slip away to end the trip, blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of Saturday's 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh. Jannik Hansen scored twice in the first before Bo Horvat put them up 3-1 six minutes into the third, but the Penguins scored four straight goals before Hansen completed the second hat trick of his career with 17 seconds remaining.

''I think if we would've gotten this game it would've been a great road trip,'' Horvat said. ''It's unfortunate, but we have to take the positives out of it and move on.''

Horvat played well on the trip and has seven goals and five assists in his last 10 after having only 10 points through his first 39. He has four goals and two assists during a four-game point streak at Rogers Arena, where the Canucks are 6-2-1 since Dec. 7 following a 3-6-3 start there.

"It'll be good to get back (home)," coach Willie Desjardins said. "But just because you go home doesn't mean anything unless you make it happen."

Vancouver will be seeking its first back-to-back victories since Dec. 22 and 26, likely with Ryan Miller in net.

Miller, who missed six games from Dec. 21-Jan. 13 because of muscle cramps, went 2-4-1 with a 3.42 GAA while making his last eight starts on the road and could get his first home start since beating the New York Rangers on Dec. 9.

Miller has a 1.60 GAA while winning four of his last five against the Predators, who won three of the previous four meetings prior to Vancouver's 5-4 shootout win March 31.


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