Venue: General Motors Place
Last season's playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators featured great goaltending from Vezina Trophy finalists Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne.
The teams will meet for the first time since then Thursday night when the Canucks try to hand the visiting Predators a fourth straight loss.
Nashville (2-2-1) advanced in the playoffs for the first time last season before falling to Vancouver (2-3-1) in six games in the Western Conference semifinals. Luongo posted a 1.63 goals-against average with one shutout in the series while Rinne was at 1.94.
The Predators won two of three at Rogers Arena in a tightly contested series in which Vancouver's Sedin brothers did not register a point on home ice. Five of the six games were decided by one goal, with the Canucks winning the other contest by two after an empty net tally.
The Canucks were 1 for 21 on the power play in the series after going 0 for 14 in splitting four regular-season games against the Predators.
Neither team has been playing well lately, in part because both goalies are enduring problems. Rinne has faced 162 shots, tied for third most in the NHL, while Luongo's 3.70 GAA is the worst among West starters.
Vancouver was shut out for the second time in three games Tuesday, falling 4-0 to the New York Rangers. The game was scoreless after two periods with the Canucks holding a 28-9 advantage in shots.
"I like the first 40 minutes of the game," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought we played well. We did what we're supposed to do except that we didn't finish."
The Canucks went 0 for 8 on the power play, marking the first time they have had at least eight chances and failed to score since going 0 for 9 against Detroit on March 17, 2007.
"We need to make more pressure in their end and better forecheck," Henrik Sedin said. "We're making it too easy on the other team right now to break the puck up."
Ryan Kesler made his season debut for Vancouver on Tuesday after hip surgery in July. Kesler was the star of the Nashville series with five goals and six assists.
The Predators fell 3-1 to Edmonton in the opener of a three-game trip Monday. Nashville continued the disturbing trend of being outshot in every game, with the Oilers enjoying a 25-12 advantage.
"That was one of the worst losses I've ever been part of," defenseman Shea Weber said.
Nashville is 1 for 11 on the power play during the losing streak after going 3 for 7 in winning its first two games.
"It comes down to effort and work ethic and playing desperate hockey," Rinne said. "It's the simple things like fighting for your teammates. Right now we are not doing that and this is the result."
The Predators will get some help if Martin Erat can return Thursday. Erat, out since the season opener with an upper-body injury, tied for the team lead with 50 points in 2010-11.
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