Predators too slick for slumping Canucks

The Nashville Predators scored four unanswered goals in a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

The Vancouver Canucks have to be asking themselves, "How low can we go?"

The Canucks wasted a promising 3-1 lead, giving up four unanswered goals in a 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators at General Motors Place on Wednesday night.

It marked Vancouver's seventh straight loss — its longest skid since 1998-99 — and extended the franchise record for consecutive losses on home ice to eight.

The Canucks remains winless at GM Place since Dec. 28, when they blanked the Ottawa Senators 3-0. 

"No one in that dressing room is taking this lightly," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We understand everyone's frustration and disappointment, but we are going to stick together to get back on right track.

"Our guys are not indifferent and they are taking this personally. They want to succeed and sometimes wanting too much can hurt you as much as not wanting it enough."

Martin Erat led the Predators (21-23-3) with one goal and one assist.

Joel Ward, Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont and David Legwand, with an empty netter, completed the scoring as Nashville ended a three-game slide by pumping in three power-play goals for the first time since March 2007.

"It was huge," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "A difference maker.

"We've talked about simplifying things, changing things up a little bit, and we've given liberties to our guys to not be as structured. Instead of going into set plays and what have you, let's go into more of a concept-type power play."

Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Suter each contributed two assists and rookie goaltender Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.

"I just did everything I could and tried to get something in front of the puck," Rinne said. "It is a huge win."

Alex Burrows, Sami Salo and Ryan Johnson tallied for the Canucks (22-20-7).

Roberto Luongo faced 37 shots in defeat, including 19 in the second period.

The Canucks had won the last six meetings between the Western Conference rivals. 

"It is still a long road, but it is a huge boost for us," Arnott said.

Ward opened the scoring when he gained inside position on defenceman Kevin Bieksa and slipped the puck past Luongo with 70 seconds to go in the first period. 

But the Canucks struck back in the second period with three goals in 5½ minutes before squandering the lead late in the frame.  

Burrows tied it 84 seconds into the period, breaking in with Ryan Kesler and beating Rinne high to the blocker side for his 11th. 

Salo followed with a power-play goal, his third at the 5:17 mark, on a blast from the point with Daniel Sedin screening in front.  

Rookie Ryan Jones then coughed up the puck in the Predators zone to Johnson, who backhanded it under the crossbar for his second.

The three-goal spurt came on Vancouver's first, second and fourth shots of the period.

It remained 3-1 until Erat scored on a splendid solo effort, kicking a rebound up in the air and swatting it into the net for a power-play goal at 16:01.

A bloodied Mattias Ohlund was sitting in the box at the time, penalized for a retaliatory slash on Ward, whose initial elbow was overlooked by the officials.  

Then, with 11 seconds left in the period, Suter set up Arnott for a rising one-timer from the top of the circle that tied it 3-3.  

Two minutes into the third period, Rinne foiled Daniel Sedin with a barrel-roll paddle stop on a short-handed breakaway and Dumont scored at the other end to put the Predators ahead 4-3. 

Ohlund was serving a slashing penalty on that one, too.

With files from the Canadian Press