Fisher scores, Predators beat ailing Canucks 3-1

Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher scored 49 seconds apart in the second period, and the Nashville Predators beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Thursday night for their third victory in four games.

Martin Erat had a goal and an assist, and Fisher's goal was his first since he was traded to Nashville a week ago. The Predators began the night tied with four other teams for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Nashville evened the season series at a game apiece. Vancouver, which leads the West, remained the NHL's top team with 83 points.

Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal for the Canucks, who were playing their third game in four nights. Kevin Bieksa was a scratch due to a broken bone in his left foot, their sixth defensemen out due to injury.

All the injuries and a couple of rookie replacements had defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on the ice for a game-high 27 minutes, 13 seconds.

Vancouver had its chances, outshooting Nashville 36-26. But goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 35 shots and improved to 15-2-1 when his teammates score at least three goals.

The Predators had two players hit by pucks before they scored.

Fisher played only 3:12 of the first after taking a puck to his right cheek almost midway through the period. He went directly to the dressing room for stitches but returned. Steve Sullivan, however, didn't return after taking a puck to his face late in the second.

David Legwand tried to pass to Sullivan in the left circle for a shot, but the puck deflected off a stick and into Sullivan's face. He dropped immediately to the ice where he was tended to before slowly skating off.

Erat put the Predators up 1-0 when he scored his 10th off the rebound of his own shot from the slot with a wrister past Roberto Luongo at 14:13. Nashville was called for too many men on the ice, and Sedin scored with a wrister from the right circle off an assist from his brother Henrik 28 seconds later for a rare goal against the NHL's best penalty killers on home ice.

That just fired up the Predators.

Patric Hornqvist corralled the puck near the boards off the faceoff and fired the puck at the net where Spaling backhanded it past Luongo to put Nashville back up 7 seconds later. Then Fisher, with stitches on his right cheek, tipped in Alexander Sulzer's slap shot for a 3-1 lead at 19:11 of the second.

With the two-goal lead, Rinne just deflected shot after shot in the third to preserve the victory.

Notes: Nashville forward Marcel Goc got hurt early in the second period with an upper-body injury when he went down near the boards. He did not return. ... Sedin's power-play goal snapped a five-game streak for the Predators of being perfect on the penalty kill. They came in having killed 26 of 27 penalties in the previous eight games. ... Nashville captain Shea Weber has 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in his last 22 games. ... The Predators improved to 21-3-6 when scoring first and 23-1-4 when leading after two periods.