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Canucks hope to return to Vancouver with commanding series lead against Nashville

The Canadian Press
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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo makes a save during the first overtime period against the Nashville Predators in game 2 of an NHL Western Conference semi-final Stanley Cup playoff hockey series in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, April 30, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward Author: The Hockey News

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Canucks hope to return to Vancouver with commanding series lead against Nashville

The Canadian Press
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Vancouver Canucks head into Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series against Nashville with home-ice advantage back on their side.

Not that they need it.

The Canucks had almost identical home and away records during the regular season and say they feel comfortable no matter where the game is being played.

"For us it doesn’t really matter if we are at home or on the road," goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "We have the same record this year."

Vancouver's 3-2 overtime victory over the Predators Tuesday gave the Canucks a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series and a chance on Thursday (CBC, 8:30 p.m. ET) to go home with a commanding lead.

"We got the job done last night to take control of the series, and now Game 4 we can really make a statement that we want the series to end," Canucks forward Chris Higgins said. "We need to come out with that mindset to snag another one here."

Luongo liked the way his team bounced back from Saturday's double-overtime defeat.

"We did want to come back with a win right away and make sure we re-establish position in the series," he said.

For that to happen the Canucks will have to win again in front of a raucous Nashville crowd.

"Last night the crowd was amazing and we were able to find a way to get it done," said Canucks forward Alex Burrows. "We just have to go out there and prove it again tomorrow."

One issue that should not be a problem for the Canucks is overconfidence. Their quarter-final series against the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks, when Vancouver won the first three games before dropping the next three, is still fresh in their mind.

They went on to win the decisive seventh game, but for a team with aspirations of winning the Cup this season, they have to keep improving.

"I think any team that expects to have success in the playoffs has to get better," Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Just like in the regular season, you go through certain momentum swings from game to game and period to period which should enable your team to improve."

Vancouver certainly could improve protecting leads late in the game. In Games 2 and 3 the Canucks squandered third-period leads and were forced to overtime by the Predators.

"They are a good, hard-working team," said Ryan Kesler, who scored the overtime winner on Tuesday. :They push hard and they had us back on our heels in the third. You have to give them credit, they fought hard the past two games and they tied it up both times.

"Last night was a big game and tomorrow is going to be even bigger."

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Canucks hope to return to Vancouver with commanding series lead against Nashville