Predators, Hartman try to stay hot versus Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In the NHL, players must deal with the same difficult question every day of the season: What have you done lately?

But Ryan Hartman will face a different query Friday night as the Nashville Predators (39-14-9) visit the Vancouver Canucks (24-32-8) at Rogers Arena: What can you do for another encore?

Hartman has two points in his first two games as a Predator after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline earlier this week. The 23-year-old Hilton Head Island, S.C., native assisted on a key insurance goal Thursday night as the Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Oilers 4-2 in Edmonton.

In his first game in a Nashville uniform Tuesday, he scored the winning goal -- with one minute left -- as the Predators earned a comeback 6-5 overtime victory over the high-flying Winnipeg Jets.

Suffice it to say that Hartman has made an impression on Nashville coach Peter Laviolette.

"He was awesome (in his debut)," Laviolette told reporters. "He looked like he knew the system. He looked like he had been playing it forever just with regard to the offensive zone and what we were trying to do.

"It's not an easy thing, either. You walk into a locker room; you don't know anybody. He gets in at 12:30 last night. He doesn't know any of the systems. He's got to sit down; he's got video in front of him all day. He's got to try to get some rest. And then to go out and play the game he did; he was terrific."

The Blackhawks, who appear to be facing a rebuild, opted to deal Hartman away as he struggled in his second NHL season following a 19-goal rookie campaign. In return, Chicago received first- and fourth-round draft picks this year and young forward Victor Ejdsell.

Now, Hartman is looking forward to a potentially long playoff run with a team that has won six straight games and reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2016-17.

"In Chicago, we had a tough year," Hartman told reporters. "It was a tough season, just kind of bad bounces and just couldn't find ways to win at times.

"Coming here to Nashville, down a couple goals in a playoff-type game (against the Jets) and two (standings) points up on the team we're playing and being able to battle back, it's a good feeling."

Meanwhile, win-starved Canucks fans are eager to see what new Canuck Brendan Leipsic, acquired from Vegas at Monday's deadline, can do for an encore. Leipsic posted two assists Wednesday as the Canucks fell 6-5 in overtime to the New York Rangers.

The 23-year-old Winnipeg native also stood out defensively in overtime, hustling back to prevent a breakaway. Now, Leipsic, who was used sparingly in past stints with Toronto and Vegas, hopes build on his strong debut.

"(The assist on Boeser's late tying goal) allows you some confidence," Leipsic told reporters. "I haven't been used in many situations like that this year.

"Opportunities like this don't come around too often. Every opportunity I'm going to get this year (with the Canucks) I'm going to try and take full advantage of."

Leipsic and Vancouver's other young players will see more ice time after the club shut down veteran winger Loui Erikisson for the rest of the season Thursday because of a rib injury. The low-scoring Canucks are looking mostly for offense from their youngsters. But Leipsic and company will have to focus largely on defense against the Predators.

Nashville defenseman Roman Josi has been particularly hot lately with one goal and 11 assists in six games. Josi was blanked Thursday after producing his 12 points during a five-game streak.

With the Predators playing the second of back-to-back games and some players likely needing a rest, center Mike Fisher, 37, could play his first game since coming out of retirement Monday.

Laviolette has said it's likely that Fisher will play sometime during their four-game road trip, which has two games left.

"He's here to do whatever he can to help this team be successful," Laviolette told reporters. "We're moving along at a pretty good clip right now."

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