When the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks meet up on Saturday night in British Columbia, both teams will be trying to do something they have done only once each in the new season — put together a winning streak.
In its second game in Alberta as part of a five-game road trip through the conference Thursday, Nashville got goals from Mark Jankowski late in the first period, then Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi scored in the second — Josi on the power play — in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
Matt Duchene’s empty-net goal with 14 seconds remaining was the icing on the cake for coach John Hynes’ squad, who won for just the second time in its past nine games (2-6-1).
Backup goalie Kevin Lankinen stopped 29 of 30 shots to move to 2-1-0, and the Predators won the battle of the special teams by going 1-for-4 on the power play and stopping all three Calgary man advantages.
Josi, Nashville’s captain, said the style of play was as encouraging as the two points.
“Obviously the win is important, but at the same time, I think the way we played is almost more important,” said Josi, who has six points over his past four games. “We saw what works. We saw how we have to play to be successful. It was an overall way better game than last game and that’s the most important thing.
“I think we played well right from the (first period). … I thought it was one of our best periods all year.”
Across his past five outings, Forsberg has been hot, notching nine points (two goals, seven assists) and putting him into a tie with Martin Erat — whom he was traded for in 2013 — for third on the Predators’ all-time points list with 481.
Recalled Thursday from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Jankowski scored against his former team in his first start for Nashville. The forward was a 2012 first-round draft pick (21st overall) by the Flames.
After a positive finish to last season under new coach Bruce Boudreau, the new campaign started out nightmarishly for the Canucks. They opened 0-5-2 and didn’t win until a 5-4 victory in Seattle on Oct. 27. Through 11 matches, they have won just three times.
On home ice against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Vancouver relied on high-octane in an 8-5 win. Andrei Kuzmenko tallied his first NHL hat trick, Elias Pettersson had a five-point night, and Bo Horvat scored two goals and added an assist in the Canucks’ highest-scoring output this season.
Boudreau stepped behind Vancouver’s bench on Dec. 5 of last season after the Canucks’ front office cleaned house following a dreadful 8-15-2 start under former coach Travis Green.
Through all the losses in a tough October, Horvat said the group rallies behind its coach.
“You want to win for him,” said Horvat, the Canucks’ captain. “You want to play hard for him, and you want to run through a wall for the guy. I think that’s a good quality to have in a coach, and everybody in this room loves him, so we just got to start winning for him.”
Vancouver’s 20th bench boss, the 67-year-old Boudreau recently became the second-fastest coach to reach 600 wins, achieving the milestone in his 1,049th match.
The Canucks have won four of the past six matchups.
–Field Level Media