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(M. J. MASOTTI JR.)
(M. J. MASOTTI JR.)

Predators, Canucks set for Game 4 Add to ...

Barry Trotz took his shot at the officiating, and now the question is whether the Nashville Predators benefit in Thursday's Game 4.

The Predators head coach sounded off Wednesday, reiterating his displeasure with a hooking penalty on Shea Weber in overtime of Game 3, which led to Vancouver's winning goal, and a high-sticking call on Jerred Smithson at the end of the first period, which also led to a Canucks goal.

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Working the officials for the next call has long been a staple of NHL playoffs gamesmanship, but it cuts both ways. If the next 50-50 call doesn't go to Nashville, centre Mike Fisher said the players cannot allow it to frustrate them.

"The thing you have to be careful about is that it doesn't become a distraction," Fisher said. "Whether or not you get the next call, you hope [so]"

The Predators disputed Weber's penalty on Ryan Kesler, saying the Canucks centre locked the former's stick into his body and baited referee Tim Peel into a hooking call. Predators centre David Legwand went so far as to say that Peel must have had a post-game date to have made such a soft call.

The Smithson penalty was also controversial because his stick did not appear to make contact with Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo's mask. Luongo said he saw the video footage, agreed that it didn't appear as though contact was made, but insisted he was struck and that he did not embellish to draw a penalty. Kesler scored to tie the game 1-1 on the ensuing power play.

Prior to Game 7 of their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis went on a prepared rant regarding the officiating. His team won the deciding contest, although some calls went against the Canucks.

"I don't think so," Trotz said when asked if working the officials helps get the next call. "My point was: let's be up front...let's play it fair up and straight up, and if so, the best team wins."

Nashville will make at least one lineup change. Winger Steve Sullivan suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and is "very doubtful" to return this series.

Sullivan will be replaced by forward Colin Wilson, who will make his postseason debut. Wilson played 82 games, but the franchise's future No. 1 centre played poorly in the second half was benched for the playoffs. Trotz said the 21-year-old Wilson was "shocked and disappointed" by the move and did not handle it maturely.

Trotz said he had a different plan in store for Thursday, and would try to matchup against the Sedin twins and Kesler's line about 70 per cent of the time.

For Vancouver, defenceman Sami Salo (lower-body injury) may play. Head coach Alain Vigneault said Salo would be a game-time decision. If he plays, he would likely replace either Andrew Alberts or Aaron Rome on the third pair.

Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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