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Matthias' hat trick powers Canucks past Bruins

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks center Shawn Matthias didn't want to look up after his first career hat trick.

Matthias wasn't worried about being hit by the hats raining down from the stands at Rogers Arena, but he was concerned how he'd react to seeing his father, Brian, on the big screen.

Matthias scored twice in the first five minutes on Friday and added his third goal 6:05 into the third period to lead the Canucks to a 5-2 win against the Boston Bruins.

"I didn't want to look because I didn't want to start laughing," Matthias said of his dad, who was in town for the Canucks' recent fathers' trip. "Then he threw up the three [fingers]. It's been a great week for him and now this, so I'm sure he's pretty happy right now."

So was Matthias after his first hat trick since junior hockey. After waiting through parts of eight NHL seasons for it, the 26-year-old didn't mind getting a little lucky on the third goal, especially after the first two were so nice.

"Surreal," Matthias said. "To just see them on their feet throwing their hats, it was pretty cool. I'll remember it for a long time."

Matthias finished off his hat trick 26 seconds after Chris Kelly had pulled the Bruins within a goal. Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg gave the puck away to Canucks forward Zack Kassian inside the left circle, and Kassian passed across to Matthias. He was robbed by the left pad of Tuukka Rask on a one-timer, only to have the rebound bounce off Seidenberg and over Rask.

"It was a lucky bounce but it was a great play by (Kassian)," said Matthias. "I got some puck luck tonight and some great passes from my linemates, some hard work from them. It was a fun night."

Rask, who was also hung out to dry by a giveaway that led to Matthias' second goal, threw his hands up as hats poured down.

"When things go south, they go south deep," Rask said. "The mistakes in our defensive zone play was just, it was awful. … You can't do that in pee wee hockey, let alone in the NHL."

Jannik Hansen added an empty-net goal with two minutes left, Radim Vrbata also scored and Kassian has two assists for Vancouver (31-20-3), which won consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 19, a stretch of 10 games. Ryan Miller, playing his 600th NHL game, made 21 saves for the Canucks, who moved two points ahead of the Calgary Flames into third place in the Pacific Division heading into a game in Calgary on Saturday.

"We're finding our way a little bit," coach Willie Desjardins said.

Matthias, who moved from left wing to his natural center position last game because of injuries to centers Brad Richardson and Nick Bonino, was a big part of that against the rival Bruins.

"It's big," Desjardins said. "We needed someone to step in at center. With Matthias coming in that helped us a lot. We could have been in a bit of trouble, but he stepped up and did a good job."

Patrice Bergeron scored a first-period goal and Rask made 20 saves for the Bruins (28-20-7), who have lost three straight after dropping the opener of a five-game road trip. Boston remained four points ahead of the Florida Panthers, who lost earlier in the night to the Dallas Stars, for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Coach Claude Julien echoed Rask's thoughts on his team's play.

"How easy we made it with those kinds of gifts is mindboggling," said Julien. "Some of those decisions [are] basically irresponsibility and you wonder where some of those decisions, what's behind the thought."

It was the fourth game between the teams since Boston won Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver. The Canucks carried the play early and opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 just 1:41 in.

Kassian, who had scored in three straight games after being a healthy scratch in each of the previous three, led a rush into the Boston zone after Derek Dorsett won a puck battle in the neutral zone. Kassian feathered a perfect pass through the air to Matthias charging to the backdoor for a quick chip over the right pad of a sprawling Rask.

"That first pass was a real great pass to get us going," Desjardins said of Kassian. "It's nice for him to get rewarded too."

Matthias doubled the lead with his 12th goal of the season at 5:03 after a turnover by defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Dropped from the top pairing with Zdeno Chara to a third pairing, Hamilton threw the puck across the ice from the side of his net -- right to Matthias, who skated in alone, outwaited a charging Rask while cutting across the slot and shot the puck into an empty net from the other side.

Bergeron pulled Boston within one goal midway through the first period, but the Bruins spent a lot of energy trying to come back after making it so easy for the Canucks to take the lead.

"We give teams time to establish their confidence and their game and then we are always playing catch-up hockey and it's tough," Bergeron said. "We've talked about this road trip being a big one and definitely not the effort we want and too many unforced errors on our part."

Vancouver controlled play to start the second period, outshooting Boston 10-0 the first six minutes and going ahead 3-1 when Vrbata converted a pretty play midway through the period. Chris Higgins chased down a dump-in behind the Boston net and made a between-the-legs backhand pass to Vrbata cutting into the slot alone; Vrbata pulled the puck to his backhand around Rask before lifting his 21st goal of the season over the goalie's outstretched stick. The goal extended Vrbata's point streak to eight games.

"Sometimes it seems like everything is going in," Vrbata said. "You have streaks where you have even better chances and the puck doesn't go it. You want to keep it going as long as you can."

Kelly briefly pulled the Bruins within a goal after a turnover gave him the puck in the high slot and his wrist shot deflected off the block attempt of defenseman Ryan Stanton and over Miller's blocker.

Matthias, who had six career two-goal games, ended any thoughts of a Boston comeback by completing his hat trick on the next shift.

"Nice setup on the first, great patience on the second, and it's going well when he gets that third," Miller said. "Big for him. Big for us."

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