for this game

Canucks aim to clinch West's top seed in Nashville

Mar 29, 2011 - 3:34 PM
(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks have been breaking franchise record after franchise record over the past week. They can surpass another club mark this evening and move closer to another first as they visit the streaking Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena.

The Canucks have already set new team highs for points (109) and road wins (25) in a season, and reached the 50-win total for the first time in club history with a 4-1 triumph over the Blue Jackets on Sunday. The victory was their eighth in a row on the road, matching a franchise record for set from Dec. 20, 2003-Jan. 13, 2004.

Chris Higgins had two goals and an assist, while Cory Schneider made 39 saves in giving regular No. 1 Roberto Luongo a breather.

"We got another great goaltender performance," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault after his team won their third straight game and 10th in their past 11. "Teams are obviously getting themselves prepared for us. I thought Columbus, tonight, played real strong. At the end of the night, our goaltender was better than their goaltender and we won the game."

Daniel Sedin had an assist to give him eight goals and 17 points over his past 11 games. He is tops in the NHL with a career-best 96 points and has three goals and nine points in his last seven versus the Predators.

The Canucks come into the meeting 11 points ahead of Detroit for the top seed in the West and can clinch the conference's No. 1 spot by earning at least a point in this matchup.

Vancouver is also nine points ahead of Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, an award the franchise has never before captured. The Canucks have six games left to the Flyers seven.

The Canucks will have to take on the red-hot Predators without defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who suffered his second concussion of the season during a collision on Sunday versus Columbus. Hamhuis, who spent his first six NHL seasons with Nashville prior to joining Vancouver, won't play tonight as he continues to be monitored.

"I talked to him briefly and he said he was feeling better, so we'll see as we move forward here," Vigneault said on Monday. "We're just going to follow the NHL protocol that we've always followed and see what happens."

Vancouver has lost 328 total man-games to injury this season, a healthy chunk of that from its blueliners.

Nashville has matched its longest winning streak of the season, a six-game run first done from Dec. 31-Jan. 11, with Saturday's 4-2 victory over Dallas. David Legwand and Mike Fisher both scored twice and Pekka Rinne ended with 28 saves.

Fisher scored just his second and third goal in 21 games with Nashville since coming over in a trade with Ottawa.

"Mike does so many other good things," Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. "He was snake-bit and frustrated that he wasn't scoring. He had been a little bit dry here. It is probably a big weight off of his back."

The Predators, who last won seven straight from Nov. 12-25, 2009, sit in a tie for fifth overall in the Western Conference with the Kings, one point up on the Ducks and one back of the fourth-place Coyotes.

Nashville is also six points back of Detroit for first place in the Central Division with six games left for both clubs. The Predators will host the Red Wings on April 2.

The Predators, who have won five straight and eight of their last nine at home, have won their last two versus the Canucks, including a 3-0 road victory on March 3 that featured a 29-save shutout by Rinne. Their 3-1 home win over Vancouver on Feb. 17 was just their second in the past seven in this series played at Nashville.

Rinne is 4-3-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average versus the Canucks, while Luongo is 9-10-0 with three ties and a 2.24 GAA when facing the Preds.