Rinne, Preds host showdown with Canucks

There may not be a more confident goaltender in the league right now than Nashville's Pekka Rinne. Vancouver should have plenty of positive feelings heading into Tuesday night after the way it won its last game.

The Predators look for their seventh victory in eight games and seventh in a row at home as they take on the Northwest Division-leading Canucks.

Nashville has posted the best record in the league since Dec. 28, going 14-3-0 and outscoring its opponents 55-33 in that span. Saturday's 3-1 triumph over St. Louis put the Predators a point ahead of the Blues for second place in the Central Division and Nashville enters tonight four points behind front-running Detroit for the most in the NHL.

Rinne has been a huge part of the Predators' recent run. He made a season-high 42 saves versus the Blues to extend his franchise-record win streak to 11 straight games. He made 19 of those stops in the third and hasn't lost since Jan. 5, giving up more than two goals just once over his win streak.

"I think the biggest thing is as a team we're playing consistent and well defensively," Rinne said of his win streak. "Confidence-wise, we have momentum going for us and we've been getting these one-goal games and a couple of huge comeback games. I think those kind of things just glue the whole team together and builds your confidence."

Rinne is just the fifth netminder since 1998-99 to post 11 straight victories in a season and he is 14-1-0 since Dec. 28 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

Martin Erat scored a goal and assisted on tallies by Sergei Kostitsyn and Mike Fisher for the Predators. Erat and Fisher both have 16 points in their past 17 games, while Kostitsyn has 15 in that span.

Vancouver comes in having won four of five while going 6-1-2 in its past nine, though it seemed like it was on its way to a regulation loss on Saturday in Colorado. The Canucks trailed by a goal late and the Avs' T.J. Galiardi sent the puck towards Vancouver's open net looking to seal things up.

However, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa dove to prevent the puck from going in and then sent the game into overtime when he scored with 34.1 seconds to play. Mason Raymond then netted the lone goal of the shootout for an improbable 3-2 win.

"I just tried to put my body in front of it because it was a rolling puck and the ice was obviously bad, so I didn't want to risk swinging at it with my stick," said Bieksa.

"Then once we got into their zone, I'm not too sure what the puck hit, most likely a stanchion, but I just tried to put it on net because we had a pretty good screen in front."

Roberto Luongo made 44 saves for the Canucks, who own an 11-point lead in their division and trail the Red Wings by three in the overall NHL standings. Vancouver also moved to 4-11-5 when trailing after two periods this season.

Ryan Kesler netted his 16th goal of the season for the Canucks, giving him four tallies and an assist over a five-game point streak as well as goals in three straight.

The Canucks and Predators have split a pair of meetings so far this year, with both taking place in Vancouver. The two teams have combined for 17 goals in those encounters, though the Canucks' Daniel Sedin and Fisher are the only two skaters with multiple goals.

Sedin has five points in the two games and twin Henrik has four off a goal and three assists, while Colin Wilson is pacing the Preds with a goal and three helpers in the two meetings.

The Canucks have won six of their past eight during the regular season in Nashville, where the clubs are meeting for the first time since last season's Western Conference semifinals that Vancouver won in six games.