VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — 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.
Bruins: At Calgary on Tuesday night in the second of a five-game trip.
Canucks: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.