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Canucks capture series opener

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots and made Chris Higgins' second-period goal stand up in the Vancouver Canucks' 1-0 win over the Nashville Predators in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night.

It was Luongo's second shutout of these playoffs and the third of his NHL postseason career. He made nine saves in the third period, including a short-handed breakaway by Mike Fisher 5:20 in, for the Canucks, who will host Game 2 on Saturday.

Pekka Rinne had several spectacular stops among his 29 saves to keep the Predators in the game despite his club being outshot, 30-20, and outplayed for long stretches.

The Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks got right back into action just two days after beating archrival Chicago in overtime of Game Seven of a series in which Vancouver had held a 3-0 lead.

But it was the fifth-seeded Predators who were a bit road-weary after arriving in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Nashville, off since eliminating Anaheim in Game Six on Sunday, came out flat in its first second-round game in team history.

Vancouver outshot Nashville, 16-5, in the opening period, but couldn't beat Rinne, who made the best of a handful of great saves with his glove.

Higgins finally scored on the Canucks' 24th shot, taken with 7:46 left in the second after a turnover at the Nashville blue line led to a 3-on-1. But play continued even after the goal was scored, although video replay confirmed the goal.

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Today's games

*The Washington Capitals open their second-round series with Tampa Bay tonight in Washington (7 p.m., Versus).

*The Red Wings were eliminated by the Sharks in last year's playoffs. Detroit will try to do better this time (10 p.m., Versus).

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