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Canucks grab lead in Northwest

by Brian Compton
Another third-period rally has the Vancouver Canucks back in first place in the Northwest Division.

Trailing 2-1 after 40 minutes, the Canucks scored three times in the final 10:01 of regulation and Roberto Luongo made 33 saves in a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Vancouver leads the NHL with nine victories this season when it trails after two periods. The Canucks have scored 82 third-period goals this season, second only to Washington.

''We were down by a goal going into the third, and again, we found a way to get it done,'' coach Alain Vigneault said after his team moved two points ahead of Colorado for the division lead.

After Mikael Samuelsson erased a one-goal deficit at 9:59 of the third period, Jannik Hansen gave the Canucks the lead with just under six minutes remaining as he put his own rebound past Pekka Rinne, who initially denied Hansen's breakaway attempt. Henrik Sedin added an empty-net goal -- his 26th of the season -- at 19:56 as Vancouver improved to 7-5-0 on its 14-game road trip.

"(Kyle) Wellwood made a nice cross-ice pass over their last guy, and I got a great break from the blue line,'' Hansen said. ''I tried to put it five-hole, but didn't quite succeed, but luckily I got the rebound.''

The teams exchanged goals in the opening period. Alexander Edler opened the scoring 11:10 into the game when he took a pass from Ryan Kesler and fired a wrister past Rinne for his third goal of the season. Nashville responded less than four minutes later as Jason Arnott scored via the power play for his third goal in four games since the Olympic break. The Preds have converted with the man advantage in nine of their last 10 contests.

Jordin Tootoo gave Nashville a 2-1 lead at 7:25 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Tootoo ripped a shot from the left circle that was denied by Luongo, but the Canucks' captain failed to cover the rebound and Tootoo flipped it over the line for his sixth goal of the season. The Preds outshot the Canucks 13-7 in the second period and lost for just the third time when leading after 40 minutes.

''I thought we were pretty solid for the most part,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''They're going to get a few chances because they are a good team. We were in scramble mode after their second goal. With the third goal, you have to play with more risk to get it back.''

Flames 5, Wild 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Jarome Iginla notched his 10th career hat trick and Vesa Toskala made 27 saves in his Calgary debut as the Flames skated past Minnesota in front of the 400th consecutive sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center.

Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano also scored for Calgary, which stayed within a point of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Iginla broke a 10-game scoring drought against the Wild when his slap shot beat Niklas Backstrom (19 saves) at 13:11 of the second period to give the Flames a 3-1 lead. Calgary's captain also scored in the third during a two-man advantage, and added an empty-net goal with 1:33 left to reach the 30-goal plateau for the ninth time in his career.

''I'd be lying if I said I was aiming those,'' Iginla said. ''I was really just trying to hit them hard, and fortunately, they came off the right way.''

Guillaume Latendresse scored both goals for the Wild (31-28-5), who fell seven points back in the playoff race. Latendresse has 21 goals in 39 games since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens.

''Definitely making it harder,'' Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. ''But I don't doubt this team, the players have shown over and over that dealing with adversity or bleak circumstances, they have been able to come through. I'm definitely not counting them out.''

Calgary wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Bourque redirected Matt Stajan's feed past Backstrom just 19 seconds into the game. It was the fastest goal against the Wild at home in franchise history.

''We're already chasing them there 19 seconds into the game,'' Richards said.

The Flames doubled their lead just over two minutes later when Giordano took a pretty feed from Iginla and wristed a shot from the left circle past Backstrom for his 11th goal of the season.

The Wild cut the deficit in half when Latendresse backhanded a pass from Martin Havlat past Toskala at 9:53. After Iginla made it 3-1 with his first goal of the day, Latendresse received a long pass from Brent Burns and beat Toskala with a slap shot from the left circle to make it 3-2.

Toskala was traded to Anaheim for Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Jan. 31, and then to Calgary for Curtis McElhinney on March 3. He made his first start since Jan. 30, when he was still with Toronto.

"He hasn't played in a month, new team in the heart of a playoff race against somebody that is trying to catch us,'' Iginla said. ''There was definitely pressure on him, but he looked great.''

Hurricanes 4, Thrashers 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Manny Legace stopped all 27 shots he faced and Jussi Jokinen had a goal and an assist as Carolina blanked Atlanta at Philips Arena for its eighth win in nine games.

With Cam Ward sidelined for the ninth straight game with a back injury, Legace earned his 24th career shutout and his first since April 5, 2008. It was also the Hurricanes' first shutout of the season.

"It's huge," Legace said. "It's what you dream about. It's everything you want. In this League, it's so hard to do."

Atlanta, which lost for the second time in two nights, has committed 24 penalties, with six goals allowed, in its last four games. Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves in the loss.

"I don't think it was (poor) effort," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "We just looked like we were wearing snow shoes, and (Carolina) looked very fresh. We couldn't execute, and when you are feeling that way and get down, it just makes it a little tougher to get back."

Brandon Sutter broke a scoreless tie when he scored on the power play 16:57 into the game. Carolina had failed to convert with the man advantage in its previous 11 opportunities.

"It was a good bounce back," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We came out and really had a good first period. We did a pretty good job of protecting (Legace)."

Joni Pitkanen scored late in the second, and Rod Brind'Amour made it 3-0 early in third. Jokinen scored on a power play to make it 4-0 with 5:57 remaining. He has 15 goals in his last 19 games and 26 overall this season.

Legace improved to 3-1-1 against the Thrashers. Two of those victories have been shutouts.

"They're so talented," Legace said. "You have to be on top of your game all the time when you're playing them."

Oilers 2, Devils 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Gilbert Brule and Marc Pouliot scored and Jeff Deslauriers made 22 saves for his third shutout of the season as Edmonton blanked New Jersey at Rexall Place.

It was the second consecutive win for the Oilers after a three-game losing streak. Edmonton snapped the skid on Friday against Minnesota.

"We played a great game both ways tonight," Deslauriers said. "We worked hard for our chances and we played smart. Defensively we were really on the button tonight. Everyone was committed to doing the job."

Martin Brodeur made 33 saves for the Devils, who also suffered a 5-3 loss at Calgary on Friday and are 2-10-1 in their last 13 road games. Overall, the Devils have won only four of their last 14 contests.

"Our focus wasn't there," New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Our legs weren't there. The defense seemed to be weak tonight. We turned the puck over I don't know how many times in the neutral zone. We should be better than this, there's no doubt."

Edmonton got on the board 1:23 into the second as Patrick O'Sullivan tracked down a puck behind the Devils' net and put in front to Brule. His quick shot banked in off of Brodeur for his 14th goal and 30th point of the season.

The Oilers doubled their lead at 8:28 of the third, when Robert Nilsson dove to make a pass to Pouliot, who ripped a shot past Brodeur for his fourth of the season. Edmonton outshot New Jersey 16-7 in the final 20 minutes.

"I don't know what the reason was, but especially in the first 40 minutes we were just bad," Devils center Dainius Zubrus said. "They were out-skating us, we weren't good on the forecheck. We weren't creating anything. They were better than us. We had a few chances in the third, their goalie made a few saves, but that was nowhere good enough to win a hockey game."

Flyers 3, Maple Leafs 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Simon Gagne and Danny Briere scored 1:16 apart in the second period and Michael Leighton made 27 saves as Philadelphia won its fourth straight on home ice.

To read the full recap, click here.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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