Preds good test for 'Nucks

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Unless teams trailing the Vancouver Canucks have a late-season surge - or the Canucks themselves suffer a slump - tonight's Nashville Predators' visit marks the last regular-season rendezvous with a team better than Vancouver.

The Canucks remain third in the Western conference with nine games to go. Three are with the Colorado Avalanche, including a home-and-away pair next week. The Canucks play the Flames in between a pair with the Los Angeles Kings before finishing the regular season against the San Jose Sharks and last-place Phoenix Coyotes.

Tonight will be Vancouver fans' first chance to see Peter Forsberg in a Predators' uniform as he faces off against fellow Ornskoldsvik, Sweden residents Markus Naslund and Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Fans won't see Preds' Jordin Tootoo. The "number five-five" forward was suspended for a quintet of games after dealing Dallas Star Stephane Robidas a knockout punch on Saturday in the NHL's latest concussion-causing incident of brutality, which overshadowed the Preds' win over the Stars.

Nashville became the first team to hit the century mark in points this season. They nudged the Detroit Red Wings out of first place overall with their 47th win of the season. The Red Wings lost 4-1 to the Canucks on the same day and needed a win last night in Calgary (after 24 hours' deadline) to restore their lead.

The Canucks require solid special teams tonight and for the remainder of the regular season.

Their 87.5 per cent penalty kill rate is tops in the league, but they're a dismal 23rd on the power play. Canucks have scored twice in their last 34 advantages.

The 'Nucks and Preds face-off at 7 p.m. (Team 1040/TSN/TSN HD).


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