Vancouver Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson finally had his hard work rewarded with a victory.
Nilsson turned in his best performance in the last couple of months, stopping 44 shots as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Boston Bruins 6-1 on Saturday night. It was the first win since Nov. 30 for the Canucks' backup goaltender. He had failed to get a win in 11 appearances, nine of them starts.
"I feel like I'm getting back to my game a little bit," said the 27-year-old from Lulea, Sweden. "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. He had four wins in his first five starts, including shutouts over Ottawa and Minnesota. Since December, Nilsson 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."
The Canuck were outshot 18-8 in the first period but still managed a 4-0 lead. Nilsson made a couple of big saves early, including getting a pad on a Danton Heinen shot off a rebound during a Boston power play. He also got a little lucky as the Bruins hit three posts in the first 20 minutes.
In the third he robbed Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly on back-to-back plays.
"We played a pretty good game, but we have to be honest, we got some bounces," said Nilsson. "It was nice to see us get an early lead and maybe control" the game.
Head coach Travis Green was pleased with Nilsson's performance.
"It was good for his confidence," said Green. "He was great tonight."
Loui Eriksson notched two goals for the Canucks. He scored his first just two minutes into the game. He second came shorthanded late in the third period when he seemed to fan on a shot, but it still went in the net.
"That's how things have been going this year it feels like," he said. "It was nice to get a break and see it go in."
The goals were the first in 11 games for Eriksson, who is in the second year of a six-year, US$36-million deal. He has 10 goals on the season.
Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Nic Dowd, and Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver (23-30-6). The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Canucks, who have just two victories in their past eight games.
Schaller scored in the third period for the Bruins (35-13-8), who suffered just their third regulation loss in 27 games.
Boston starter Tuukka Rask was replaced after allowing four goals on eight shots in the first period. Anton Khudobin stopped 12-of-14 shots.
The Bruins outshot Vancouver 45-23, but Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said his team was outworked.
"I look at the goals and they got there," he 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."
The Canucks got lucky on a couple of goals.
Eriksson's opening goal came after Rask gave up a big rebound off an Alex Edler shot. Sedin took a swipe at the puck before it rolled to Eriksson, who whacked it into the net.
Vancouver went ahead 4-0 on a strange play. Rask stopped a shot from Baertschi. 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," said David Backes. "Then you are climbing uphill the rest of the games."
NOTES: Canuck defenceman Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and the ninth time in the last 25 games… Baertschi returned to the Canucks lineup after sitting out Vancouver's 4-1 loss to San Jose Thursday… Louie DeBrusk, the father of Boston rookie forward Jake DeBrusk, worked between the benches as a colour analyst for the first time in a game his son played.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press