Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler scored 48 seconds apart in the first period Sunday as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the struggling Montreal Canadiens 4-2.
The early goals set the Habs back on their heels as they were outshot 14-7 in the period. Henrik Sedin restored a two-goal lead in the second period and Ryan Kesler completed the attack as Vancouver got back in the playoff picture in the NHL’s wild Western Conference.
Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn, with his 20th goal late in the third period, scored for Montreal which is winless in 11 games against the Canucks.
Vancouver improved to 27-21-8 and leap-frogged to fifth place in the West. The Canucks were ninth before their fifth win in six games.
Vancouver is one point ahead of the idle Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks who occupy the final three playoff spots.
The Canadiens lost for the fifth time in six games to slip to 30-21-6. Montreal has won only once in six games and lost eight of their last nine on the road. They remained fifth in the Eastern Conference but fell three points behind fourth-place Philadelphia.
Vancouver took a 3-1 lead into the third period when Alex Burrows earned his second assist of the game by starting the only scoring play of the second period.
Burrows dashed down the wing, drew a defender to him and passed to Daniel Sedin who relayed through the slot to brother Henrik before goalie Jaroslav Halak could cover the open net.
The goal came after Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo came out to challenge Andrei Kostitsyn on a partial break-in and Halak robbed Mats Sundin at the other end with his glove.
Kesler provided third-period insurance on a two-on-one break with Sundin as he went to his knees to drill a shot under the crossbar.
The goal was the fifth in six games and 16th of the season for Kesler who has found his scoring touch since playing with Sundin and Pavol Demitra.
Carey Price, a B.C. native who had surrendered 12 goals in his last two starts, replaced Halak after Vancouver had fired 33 shots on him by 10:51 of the third period.
The Canucks fashioned a 2-0 lead on goals 48 seconds apart by Daniel Sedin and Edler but Koivu drew Montreal to within one late in an up-tempo opening period.
Vancouver was outskating the Canadiens when Daniel Sedin took Henrik’s pass and beat Halak with a shot off the stick of defender Josh Gorges.
Luongo left for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty call when Edler’s low shot through traffic found a corner of the net.
The goals were the second in five games for both players and silenced early chants of Go Habs Go .
Montreal counted with one minute 46 seconds left in the period when Tom Kostopoulos won a puck battle behind Luongo and fed Koivu for a one-timer.
NOTES: Before getting Friday off against Dallas, Luongo had nine straight starts since coming back from a serious groin injury … Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec served the second and final game of his suspension for tripping Edmonton defenceman Denis Grebeshkov from behind … it was the 5,999th game for the century-old Montreal franchise … Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges, a Kelowna, B.C., native, bought 32 tickets for friends and family … Ryan O’Byrne, of Victoria, was a healthy scratch for Montreal … the Canucks and Habs have a return match Feb. 24 in Montreal.