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Canucks show Preds who’s the best in the West…

On a rare Spring night where there was actually competition for Nashville sports fans’ attention, the resident hockey team took on the NHL’s best.

The 15,960 sports fans that did not go cheer on the US Men’s National Team at LP Field tonight saw a doozy of a contest. One that mirrored a playoff atmosphere. Nashville, unfortunately, couldn’t “make it seven” as they lost the Vancouver Canucks, 3-1.

The Predators’ lone goal came off the stick of Mike Fisher, who now has three of Nashville’s last four goals.

Vezina Trophy candidate Pekka Rinne turned in another stellar outing that won’t show up on his win-loss record. He amassed 29 saves, most of which kept his team in the game early (and late).

Once again the Predators proved, without three goals scored, they can’t tally a win. Nashville is an incredible 38-4-1 when they bag three. When they don’t? A miserable 3-22-9.

While the Predators played well early on, and got great goaltending all night long, they put up just two shots in the final period. All Vancouver had to do was hang on for their 51st victory of the season.

Nashville, despite their recent six-game win streak, have had their share of bad luck this season. And by “bad luck” we mean “injuries.” And by “injuries” we mean “lots of injuries.” First it was big free agent signee Matthew Lombardi (concussion) in game two of the season. Then it was Cal O’Reilly (broken fibula). Then it was Francis Bouillon (concussion). Then it was Steve Sullivan (groin). Then it was Marcel Goc (shoulder).

Early in the first period, it appeared Sergei Kostitsyn was about to be added to the list. He was crunched by Kevin Bieksa and Jeff Tembellini along the boards and just crumpled to the ice. As the play went the other way, he failed to get to his feet, electing to stay on his knees. Once helped off, he went straight to the locker room. Fortunately for the Predators, he missed merely minutes and was back on the ice shortly.

Toward the end of the middle frame, the Predators finally opened the scoring when Fisher wristed a Jon Blum rebound into a partially empty net.

In typical Canucks fashion, Alex Burrows capped off a Henrik Sedin to Daniel Sedin play that tied the game at the start of the final period. Burrows added the game-winning goal on a breakaway in the final minutes.

Nashville will try to rebound from their first loss in seven games when they go on the road to play the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

Puck drops at 8:00pm Central time and you can catch all the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee and 102.9 the Buzz.

* Former Predator defenseman Dan Hamhuis was finally set to play his first game in Music City as a member of an opposing team until he suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday night. Hamhuis led Vancouver with a plus/minus rating of plus-29 before the injury.
* In other Western Conference playoff news, the Boston Bruins did the Preds a favor tonight, blanking the Chicago Blackhawks.
* Nashville is now 9-1-0 this season when a TV timeout standing ovation takes place.
* How Roberto Luongo was named a star in this game is beyond me. He had just 16 saves, including just two in the final period).
* Kostitsyn registered an assist on Fisher’s goal, extending his point streak to seven games.
* Blum, who got the other assist, has collected all but one of his seven points at home.
* Shea Weber and Ryan Suter finished with a minus-3 rating. In addition, Weber didn’t have a single shot on goal.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 6:00 remaining in regulation):
1) Pekka Rinne (NSH)
2) Mike Fisher (NSH)
3) Alex Burrows (VAN)

1) Alex Burrows (VAN)
2) Pekka Rinne (NSH)
3) Roberto Lunogo (VAN)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //