Canucks strike early, often to rout Predators
The Vancouver Canucks got the better of a furious scoring flurry early in the game, and eventually got goals from six different players in a key 6-2 rout of the visiting Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Matt Pettinger scored for the Canucks in the opening 6:21, during which the teams combined for an incredible five goals.
Kevin Bieksa tallied in the second period, and Ryan Shannon scored in the third to provide insurance for the Canucks, who for a change didn't have to lean on goalie Roberto Luongo as they outshot the Predators 44-23 — including 24-9 in the first period — en route to matching a season-high in goals.
"You come to a point after playing bad for a few games, you have to realize you have to have fun out there," said Daniel Sedin who helped set up three goals, including Edler's power-play marker with a two-man advantage. "You can't play so uptight and squeeze the stick too much. Tonight we went out and relaxed and got our legs going."
With the win, Vancouver (33-24-10) avoided its first five-game losing streak of the season, and moved into a tie with Nashville (34-26-8) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Technically, Vancouver occupies the eight position because it has 15 games remaining — one more than Nashville.
Canucks' Miller hurt
Vernon Fiddler and Greg de Vries had goals during the furious opening flurry for the Predators, who fell to 2-2-0 on their six-game road trip.
Starting goalie Dan Ellis lasted just 6:09, allowing three goals on 11 shots before being yanked in favour of Chris Mason, who stopped 30 of 33 shots.
"They came out with way more intensity than we did," said Ellis. "Both teams realized it was a game that had a lot of importance and they just way, way outmatched us. They dominated us like we've never been dominated in that first period."
Already without Mattias Ohlund after it was announced earlier Thursday that he'll miss at least a week — and possibly the rest of the regular season — due to bone chips in his knee, Vancouver lost another defenceman late in the game. Aaron Miller left with 92 seconds remaining after being checked into the boards by Jordin Tootoo. Miller went to the dressing room clutching his right shoulder.
"Hitting's part of the game," said Tootoo, who received a cross-checking penalty and a boarding major. You've got to be a man to play this game and you've got to be able to keep your head up. Clean hit. Nothing more to say."
The Canucks host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (CBC, 10 p.m. ET) before embarking on a four-game road trip against Pacific Division teams.
Edler jumpstarts Vancouver
Thursday's scoring started early, as Burrows outraced two Predators for a loose puck at the Vancouver blue-line and beat Ellis from the face-off dot for his third shorthanded goal of the season.
Burrows' goal gave the Canucks a big lift with Henrik Sedin sitting out a holding penalty, and he now has 10 goals this season, doubling his career total.
"I think it's finally turned the tide and I'm getting more bounces going my way," said Burrows who had four goals disallowed last season. "I just have to be positive and keep working and doing the little details right. If I do all that, the hockey gods are going to be on my side."
Edler made it 2-0 by blasting a point shot home with the Canucks enjoying a two-man advantage.
Fiddler got shorthanded Nashville on the board 14 seconds later, outwaiting Luongo before lifting a shot over the sprawling goalie.
Going gets rough
Pettinger, obtained at the trade deadline from Washington in a deal for Matt Cooke, ended a 32-game goal drought by going hard to the net and poking the puck behind Ellis. The goal chased Ellis, who had blanked the Canucks 3-0 in Vancouver on Nov. 1.
Vancouver's second two-goal lead lasted all of 12 seconds when de Vries' shot from the blue-line handcuffed Luongo.
Bieksa, who suffered a lacerated calf muscle in a Nov. 1 collision with Fiddler that cost him 46 games, made it 4-2 by taking Daniel Sedin's drop pass and beating Mason inside the far post.
Raymond scored 1:33 into the second period, circling the net with his own rebound and beating a fallen Mason.
Shannon enabled Vancouver to match a season-high with its sixth goal by converting Salo's rebound off the end boards during a power play.
The game turned rough late in the third. Following the Tootoo-Miller incident, De Vries and Bieksa fought in the final minute after Bieksa and Fiddler fired pucks at each other.
With files from the Associated Press