Canucks look to finish off season sweep of Predators

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Nipping on the heels of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference standings, the Nashville Predators conclude their four-game road swing through western Canada on Monday night when they visit the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

Nashville won the first two games of its trip, 2-1 in overtime at Winnipeg and 3-2 at Calgary before blowing a 2-0 lead in the final 21 minutes on Saturday night in a 3-2 loss at Edmonton.

Alex Chiasson started the comeback for the Oilers with a power-play goal that caromed in off the skate of Kyle Turris with nine seconds left in the second period. Leon Draisaitl followed with two third-period goals, including the game-winner on the power play with 6:58 remaining in regulation.

“The first 40 minutes I thought especially were really good. Both ends of the rink did a lot of good things,” Nashville center Ryan Johansen said. “The third period needed to be a little better and gave up a few too many man advantages to them and weren’t able to close it out.”

The Predators garnered four penalties in the final 22 minutes of action. Draisaitl’s game-winner came on a 4-on-3 power play.

“It’s frustrating because we played so well the first 40,” Johansen said. “Just got to make sure the next third period and next game we’re better.”

Especially frustrating because the late collapse cost the Predators, who have won four of their last six games, a chance to move closer to a playoff spot. Captain Roman Josi also hit the post on a potential game-tying goal late in the game.

“Tighten up a few things and it can be a successful trip if we win the next game,” Johansen said. “So, we’ll just make sure we’re ready for them.”

Vancouver holds a one-point lead over second-place Edmonton and Vegas in a very tight Pacific Division race despite losing four in a row, including a 6-2 decision to Calgary on Saturday night. It was the first home setback of 2020 for the Canucks, who had a nine-game home win streak that dated back to a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 17.

“(Calgary) just wanted it a little more tonight,” Canucks center Adam Gaudette said after the Flames scored the final four goals of the game. “I think every game is harder and harder going forward. It’s a battle for playoff spots. We’re one of those teams. We kind of got sucked in a little bit and we got away from our game a little bit and tried to play their style of game and it ended up hurting us.”

“I think at this time of year I think it’s buckle-up time and put the work boots on and get going here,” forward Tanner Pearson said. “We’re still in the (playoff) picture, which is huge, but we need to nip (the losing streak) in the (bud) and move on from it and get back in the win column here.”

This is the third of three meetings between the two teams. Vancouver won the first contest 5-3 on Nov. 12 at home and also won the second 6-3 behind five power-play goals and a short-handed goal by Pearson on Nov. 21 in Nashville.

The Canucks will be without forward Brock Boeser, who has 16 goals and 45 points, for the contest. Boeser left Saturday’s loss with an upper-body injury.

“He’s going to be out,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “I don’t know for how long.”

–Field Level Media

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