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Canucks parlay big first period into win 6-2 over Predators

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks blitzed two Nashville goalies for four first-period goals Thursday to beat the Predators 6-2 and improve their chances of making the NHL playoffs.

Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Matt Pettinger and Kevin Bieksa counted during a season-high 24-shot barrage that staked Vancouver to a 4-2 lead after 20 minutes.

Mason Raymond, a healthy scratch in Vancouver's last game, and Ryan Shannon also scored for the Canucks. Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo each had three assists for the winners.

Vernon Fiddler and Greg de Vries counted for Nashville.

The crucial victory snapped a season-high four-game losing streak and enabled the Canucks (33-24-10) to climb into a tie with Nashville for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Both clubs have 76 points but the Predators have played one more game than Vancouver. They dropped to 34-26-8 with their second loss on a six-game road trip.

The game started like a track meet with five goals in the first six minutes 21 seconds.

Nashville had only a 3-2 deficit by converting Markus Naslund turnovers as Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo gave up two goals on Nashville's first four shots.

Burrows got the opening goal 37 seconds into the game by scoring short-handed for the third time this season. He outraced two defenders to a loose puck at the Canuck blue-line and beat goalie Dan Ellis from the face-off dot.

Edler made it 2-0 by finishing a four-way passing play with a hard point shot as the Canucks enjoyed a two-man advantage.

But Fiddler scored shorthanded 14 seconds later by stripping Naslund of the puck and outwaiting Luongo, who went down as the Nashville centre shot high.

Pettinger, obtained at the trade deadline from the Washington Capitals in a deal for Matt Cooke, ended a 32-game goal drought by going hard to the net and poking the puck behind Ellis.

That goal - on Vancouver's 11th shot - chased Ellis, who blanked the Canucks 3-0 here Nov. 1, in favour of Chris Mason.

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 by intercepting a Dan Hamhuis pass and burying his own rebound.

Shannon enabled Vancouver to match a season-high six goals by converting Salo's rebound off the end boards during a power play.

Both clubs became testy late in the third period.

The Canucks lost defenceman Aaron Miller when he was run hard into the boards by Jordin Tootoo with 1:32 remaining. Miller went to the dressing room clutching his right shoulder.

Tootoo received a boarding major and a cross-checking penalty on the play.

De Vries and Bieksa fought in the final minute after Bieksa and Fiddler fired pucks at each other.

NOTES: Vancouver defenceman Mattias Ohlund is sidelined with bone chips in his left knee ... the club is waiting to see if the swelling will go down before deciding on further treatment ... the four-goal first period matched a Canuck season high ... Byron Ritchie returned to the Vancouver lineup after missing four games with a sore back ... Raymond, had a goal, an assist and the shootout winner against Nashville on Feb. 21.

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