VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Milan Lucic scored the go-ahead goal on a rebound with 4:38 left, Patrice Bergeron added an insurance marker into an empty net and the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Saturday night.
Lucic, who is from Vancouver and was honored by the local junior team Friday, snapped his team-leading 27th goal into an empty net after Roberto Luongo lost sight of the puck when Dennis Seidenberg's point shot deflected in front.
Nathan Horton also scored and Tim Thomas made 26 saves for Boston, which has won the first four games of a six-game road trip to stay four points ahead of Montreal in the Northeast Division. It may have been a costly win, though, as Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference left with a lower body injury after a big hit by fourth-line forward Victor Oreskovich late in the first period.
Manny Malhotra scored and Luongo finished with 22 saves as Vancouver continued to alternate wins and losses for a 10th straight game. The Canucks remained a point ahead of Philadelphia atop the NHL standings but saw their lead over Detroit in the Western Conference shrink to five points.
In a battle between the top two defensive teams in the NHL, Luongo and Thomas traded stellar right pad saves to keep it scoreless before Malhotra opened the scoring with 3:02 left in the first period. Malhotra lifted a rebound over the left pad of Thomas after a scramble in front of the goalie. It was Malhotra's third goal and seventh point in eight games after going pointless the prior 19.
It was also the Canucks' first goal ever against Thomas, who shut them out in two prior meetings and came in with the best save percentage and goals-against average in the NHL. His dominance continued early with a right pad save to take a point-blank chance away from NHL leading scorer Daniel Sedin.
Horton, who was robbed on an empty net chance by the right pad of a sprawled Luongo early, tied it midway through the second period. Luongo stuffed his first point-blank chance after a nice pass from Lucic behind the net, but Horton jammed in the rebound before the Canucks stopped could recover to his left.
Luongo robbed Horton again late in the period, and Thomas sprawled to get a pad on Mikael Samuelsson s breakaway at the other end. Thomas added another spectacular stop in the final minute of thee game, stacking the pads on Alex Burrows.
Vancouver s top-ranked power play was 0 for 3 with just three shots.
NOTES: Lucic's junior team, the Vancouver Giants, gave away a Lucic bobblehead doll, and put his old number in their Ring of Honor before a game Friday. Lucic won a Memorial Cup junior championship with the Giants in 2007. Boston, which already added D Tomas Kaberle, C Chris Kelly and C Richard Peverley in trades over the last week, signed veteran D Shane Hnidy before the game. Hnidy has been out all season after injuring his shoulder in a training camp tryout in Phoenix. ... It was Boston's first visit to Vancouver since 2008 and just the third trip since 2002.