Bruins

Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

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Eriksson, Nilsson lead Canucks past Bruins, 6-1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Anders Nilsson finally had his hard work rewarded with a victory.

Loui Eriksson scored his second goal of the night late in the third period and Nilsson stopped 44 shots to pick up his first win in 2 1/2 months as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 6-1 Saturday night.

Nilsson was 0-7-0 in his last 11 appearances, including nine starts, since beating Nashville on Nov. 30.

"I feel like I'm getting back to my game a little bit," the 27-year-old Swede said. "Even though the results haven't been going my way, or the team's way, I'm feeling like my game has slowly been getting back to the way it should be and the way when I play my best.

"It feels great to be able to contribute to two points."

Nilsson started the season strong with four wins in his first five starts, including shutouts over Ottawa and Minnesota. Since December, however, he has struggled. His win against the Bruins improved his record to 7-10-1.

Jacob Markstrom was scheduled to start against the Bruins after Nilsson played in a 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday night. Nilsson learned after the morning skate that Markstrom was sick and he'd be starting instead.

"It was plenty of time to get prepared," he said. "I still had the whole day. I just prepared the way I normally do."

Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Nic Dowd and Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver, which scored four goals in the first to take control. It gave the Canucks just their second win in eight games.

Vancouver was outshot 45-23 but got some timely saves from Nilsson.

Tim Schaller scored in the third period for the Bruins, who lost in regulation for just the third time in 27 games. Tuukka Rask started and gave up four goals on eight shots in the first period. Anton Khudobin came on to start the second and finished with 13 saves.

"I look at the goals and they got there," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They wanted to get there, and we didn't prevent them from getting there.

"We got sloppy at times and we paid the price."

Nilsson made a couple of big saves early, including getting a pad on Danton Heinen's shot off a rebound during a first-period Boston power play. In the third, he robbed Schaller and Sean Kuraly on back-to-back plays.

Nilsson also got a little lucky as the Bruins hit three posts in the first 20 minutes.

"We played a pretty good game, but we have to be honest, we got some bounces," Nilsson said. "It was nice to see us get an early lead and maybe control the game.

The Canucks were outshot 18-9 in the first period but led 4-0.

Eriksson opened the scoring two minutes into the game. Rask gave up a big rebound off Alex Edler's shot, and Sedin took a swipe at the puck before it rolled to Eriksson, who whacked it into the net.

The Canucks went ahead 2-0 at 10:54 on a pretty play from Thomas Vanek. He skated down the middle the ice then feathered a pass through the legs of Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo to Sedin, who was alone at the side of the net.

Horvat made it 3-0 just 56 seconds later as he took a pass from Troy Stecher, skated around defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and put a shot over Rask's glove. Nilsson earned an assist on the goal.

The Canucks made it 4-0 on a strange play. Rask stopped a shot from Baertschi and Boston's Noel Acciari tried to clear the rebound, but the puck hit Kuraly's stick and went into the net.

"We hung our goalies out to dry," the Bruins' David Backes said. "Then you are climbing uphill the rest of the games."

Dowd scored the only goal of the second period to make it 5-0. Jake Virtanen cut across the front of the net and took a shot that Khudobin stopped but Dowd put in the rebound for his second at 2:44.

NOTES: Canucks D Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the ninth time in the last 25. ... Baertschi returned to the Canucks' lineup after sitting out Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday. ... Louie DeBrusk, the father of Boston rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, worked between the benches as a color analyst for the first time in a game his son played.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At Calgary on Monday afternoon in the second game of a five-game trip.

Canucks: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.

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Morning Skate: Yes, Kessel values Cups more than scoring titles

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Morning Skate: Yes, Kessel values Cups more than scoring titles

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while shaking my head at the disparity in talent levels between Ilya Kovalchuk and anybody on Team USA...no offense to the guys we sent over there.

*Phil Kessel said he values winning Stanley Cups over scoring titles, but does he value them more than hot dogs from his favorite food stand in Toronto? That is the question.

*Here’s a fine tribute from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Steve Conroy about his late partner at the Boston Herald, columnist/hockey writer Steve Harris, who sadly passed away a couple of days ago while still manning the beat until the past week or so. It’s still such a shocking loss for everybody in the local hockey community, and this piece does a good job of capturing his spirit.

*So, controversial Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is going to now also be the CEO of the team as well? Yikes.

*Damien Cox takes a look at the Canadian NHL teams that look like they’re going to fall short of the playoffs and what they need to do to right their respective ships.

*The Nashville Predators explain how they are “all in” at the NHL trade deadline with another clear shot at a Cup run.

*For something completely different: A ranking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies from worst to best that suffers from recent-itis where a number of movies just released are probably given way, way too much deference even though they are good superhero flicks.

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Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

When the Bruins take the ice against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night deep in the outer reaches of Western Canada, there will be a couple of things at play. One will be the start of a long sprint to the end of the regular season with 27 games in a scant 52 days with no more long breaks to catch their collective breath.

The worst of the worst will be 16 games in March, which could be the thing that ultimately knocks the Black and Gold down a peg after they’ve managed to play through everything else this season.

Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by just a couple of points for the NHL’s top spot, the Bruins know the schedule itself will be one of their biggest challenges of the season.

“We’re certainly aware of our schedule the rest of the way, and we know that it’s going to be a challenge. There aren’t too many more days off and we’re pretty much playing every other day,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So some of it will be about getting the proper rest and making sure we’re doing everything to be ready to play. But this has also been a group that’s done a really good job of handling other things that have been thrown at us whether it’s injuries or something else. This is just another challenge to take on.”

But the other, smaller picture is of the five-game trip through Canada with a final stop in Buffalo next Sunday. The Bruins will play those five games in ten days in their longest trip of the regular season. They hope to conjure up some of the same mojo that kicked off their three-month winning binge way back in mid-November. It was then that the Bruins righted the ship on a trip through California and won games in Los Angeles and San Jose that kicked off a four-game winning streak that helped change the season.

The Bruins are much more comfortable now with a giant cushion for a playoff spot and a legitimate chance to overtake the Lightning, but Bruce Cassidy is hoping to see the same kind of hunger in this particular long stretch away from home.

“This is much more about what we are and what we look like, but having said that the [California trip] was the beginning of us [turning things around]. It had us gutting out some wins in typically tough places to play like L.A. and San Jose. [Anton] Khudobin was in net and we were relying on some call-up guys, but that was really when our D-corps really stiffened up,” said Cassidy. “It kind of got us back to our heads above water, and from there we kind of took off. But now this is a different group in a different position, and we’re pushing to be in a different position.

“I think you can say Tuukka [Rask] won us all these games or [Brad] Marchand or [Patrice] Bergeron. Our best players have been our best players, but our support players have been very good, especially on those nights when we’ve needed to lean on them a little more when they’ve able to shut down [the Bergeron Line]. I think our support players deserve a lot of credit for that.”

The Bruins clearly hope this mammoth trip can be another seasonal turning point that pushes them in a direction toward a strong, decisive finish to the marathon of a regular season.

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