Predators aim to halt road skid at Canucks
For nearly a month, the Nashville Predators showed they haven't been fazed by a condensed schedule or a rash of injuries.
After a hot start on the road, the Predators look to snap a four-game skid away from home when they meet the woeful Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Nashville (19-8-1) closed November with back-to-back losses, but goes for its third straight win after beating the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Monday. The Predators completed a stretch of 13 games in 24 days by going 7-5-1 and sit atop the Central Division.
That success is more impressive considering the offensive firepower that's been sidelined. Currently on injured reserve are Viktor Arvidsson (broken thumb), P.K. Subban, Kyle Turris and Filip Forsberg -- all dealing with upper-body injuries.
The four injured players account for 29 of the club's 90 goals scored.
"We're trying to play the same way," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said following the win over the Sabres. "I still think you need to be on the attack, you can't just sit back and defend."
The Predators tallied 11 goals while winning each of their last two games in Vancouver. Laviolette remarked that his team must remain at the top of its game regardless of who is in the lineup.
"For the last eight to 10 games, with a lot of key pieces out of the lineup, I just think it's important that we stay with our identity, but we also understand there's less room for error and we need to stay sharp," he said.
Since Arvidsson went down on Nov. 10, Austin Watson has five goals in only 10 games. Nick Bonino and Kevin Fiala each have four in 12 and 13 games, respectively.
Nashville began the 2018-19 campaign by reeling off eight straight regulation wins on the road. The club has gone 0-3-1 away from home since then and Pekka Rinne could get the call to help end the skid.
The Vezina Trophy winner leads the league with a 1.81 goals-against average, and has surrendered no more than one goal in four of his last five starts at Rogers Arena.
Vancouver (11-16-3) has failed to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons and is sinking in the Pacific Division. The Canucks, who fell 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, are looking for their second win in 14 games.
"Our team hasn't got the results, and it's hard when you don't win, but I'll give our team credit, they're going out and competing. They're not letting themselves not show up. And that's hard when you haven't won in a while," coach Travis Green told the team's official website.
Over the last 13 games, no one has stood out on offense. Nioklay Goldobin, a healthy scratch against the Wild, Bo Horvat, Tyler Motte and rookie star Elias Petterson each have three goals. Vancouver is in the bottom third of the league with 2.77 goals scored per game
The Canucks' defense isn't much better, yielding a total of 103 goals through 30 games.
Jacob Markstrom is 0-2-1 with a. 3.70 GAA and an .895 save percentage in his career against Nashville. Anders Nilsson surrendered a career-worst seven goals in a home loss to the Predators on Dec. 13, 2017. Also, Nilsson has lost six straight starts while logging an .884 save percentage.
Updated December 6, 2018