VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Nicklas Jensen probably won't be sent back to the minors anytime soon.
Jensen boosted Vancouver's flickering playoff hopes Wednesday night, scoring the Canucks' first goal in a 2-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.
It was Jensen's third goal in four games — and the third of his NHL career. The Danish rookie has played in only seven games this season since being promoted from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League because of injuries to forwards Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler.
"It's huge," Jensen said. "It's tough to know what to expect when you get up here."
Eddie Lack made 30 saves, and Jensen and Alex Edler scored 1:13 apart in the third period.
The Canucks posted their fourth win in seven games but remained in 10th place in the Western Conference while pulling within three points of eighth-place Phoenix. Vancouver stayed a point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who beat Colorado.
Nashville is in 12th place, five points behind the Jets.
Lack earned his fourth shutout of the season, tops among NHL rookies, even though the Predators enjoyed a 30-22 edge in shots.
"I'm the first one to say I haven't got to my best games so far and it feels good coming out with a shutout tonight for sure," said Lack, who has inherited the No. 1 role following Roberto Luongo's trade to Florida.
Jensen finally opened the scoring at 6:06 of the third when he picked up a loose puck while Nashville defenseman Seth Jones was checking Henrik Sedin and roofed a shot over goalie Carter Hutton's outstretched glove.
"Henrik got the puck," Jensen said. "It was kind of scrambling and bobbling on his stick and somehow he found a way to slide it over to me, and I just tried to release it and put it on net.
"The guy can do a lot of things a lot of guys can't do. That's also why he's so unique and one of the best players in the world," he added. "When I came up here and heard that I could play with him, I knew I was going to be ready."
The 21-year-old Jensen, Vancouver's top draft choice (29th overall) in 2011, is succeeding at the NHL level in his first full season in North America. He was returned to the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals after he was drafted, then split last season between a Swedish team and Vancouver's former Chicago Wolves AHL affiliate. Along the way, he has battled injuries and inconsistency.
But he is proving to be a quick offensive study, with only nine NHL games under his skates, after dressing for two last season. He also is impressing Canucks coach John Tortorella with his two-way play.