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Canucks have slowly but surely shown their superiority

Vancouver Canucks Head coach Alain Vigneault talks to his team during a time out in the third period in game one of the NHL Western Conference semifinal Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Vancouver April 28, 2011.

JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

If the Nashville Predators are going to stay alive in their Western Conference semi-final against the Vancouver Canucks, then they are going to need to score goals in Saturday's Game 5.

And scoring goals means shooting the puck, which the Predators have not done in this NHL playoff series.

Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo faced 21 shots in Game 4, and just 20 shots in Game 1. The Predators put just 30 pucks on net in a 71-minute overtime contest in Game 3, and it's most telling that their only win in this series came with a 46-shot effort in Game 2, a 2-1 victory in double overtime.

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"I look up [at the scoreboard]halfway through the game and they only have eight or nine shots," Canucks winger Daniel Sedin said. "That's how they play. I don't think they're too worried about getting shots. They're more about playing good defensively, staying in games, and in the end they're going to make a push and try to get it to overtime or win by one goal. That's how they play in the regular season, and that's how they play in the playoffs."

The Canucks lead the series 3-1 and can advance to their first conference final in 17 years with a win at Rogers Arena. Vancouver is not expected to make any lineup changes after sweeping both games at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena earlier this week.

Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said Nashville's low shot totals were a function of his team playing a high-percentage game that has allowed it to maintain the lion's share of puck possession and zone time.

"When you play against a team like that, that don't give you a lot of time and space, you have to play a high-percentage game," he said. "We've been able to spend a good portion of the game in the other team's end."

The Canucks have slowly but surely shown their superiority in this series, which prompted Vigneault to remind his group of what happened in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks had a 3-0 series lead and were destroyed in the fourth and fifth games because they relented.

Vigneault said he would talk to the players about strapping up their "work boots" for Game 5, and not thinking the series is over.

The Predators are expected to make at least one lineup change Saturday. Forward J.P. Dumont is expected to enter the lineup in place of Jerred Smithson, who left Game 4 after taking a Ryan Kesler elbow to the nose. Dumont played two games in Nashville's first-round series win over Anaheim, but has yet to dress against the Canucks.

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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