Sunday, March 1, 2009

5th Straight Home Win Comes vs Blue Jackets

The Vancouver Canucks collected a valuable pair of points Sunday evening in their race to solidify a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Canucks collected a goal in each period and posted a decent start-to-finish effort in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The victory pushes Vancouver four points clear of Columbus for 5th spot in the conference standings.

Blue Jackets netminder Steve Mason was tested plenty in the opening period of play and the Canucks came out with a lot of pressure in the Columbus territory. Just when it looked like the 20 year-old Calder Trophy candidate might be able to get to the intermission break without allowing a goal, the Canucks were able to capitalize on a 5-on-3 man advantage. Mats Sundin worked the puck to the left boards for Henrik Sedin, who dished a pass to the point for Sami Salo. With time winding down on the clock, Salo was able to step into a drive that found its way past Mason. Salo now has five goals on the season, all of which have come on the power play, and this one occured with five seconds to go in the session.

The Canucks built on their lead early in the middle frame. Just as a power play had expired for Vancouver, Sundin was able release a drive from the left face off circle. It wound up being deflected off the stick of Ryan Kesler and past the Jackets puck-stopper. Mattias Ohlund collects the other assist on the goal, moving him one point shy of former Canuck d-men Jyrki Lumme and Dennis Kearns for the Canucks all-time record in scoring amongst blue liners. Meantime, Kesler collects his 19th goal of the campaign, which also proved to be his first game-winning tally of the year and it came at 1:42.

The shut-out bid of Roberto Luongo wound up being broken in the early portion of the third period. After seeing just 12 shots through the opening 40 minutes, Luongo wound up denying Rick Nash on a wrap-around chance. However the Columbus captain was able to follow-up and snap home a second opportunity beside the net. Manny Malhotra and Marc Methot help Nash score his team-leading 27th goal of the season at 6:18.

The Canucks didn't panic after Nash scored and were able to restore their two-goal lead past the midway point of the period. Daniel Sedin led a 3-on-1 rush into the Jackets zone down the right wing. He was able to drop a pass high into the slot for Alex Burrows, who was able to whistle a bullet past Mason to the top corner. Burrows now has 16 goals of the year and this capped off the scoring for the night at 11:51.

Final shot totals favoured the Canucks 30-20. The Canucks wound up going 1-for-5 on the power play while the Blue Jackets, sporting the worst power play percentage in the NHL, wound up going 0-for-5.

With the victory, the Canucks improve their overall record to 32-22-8. 28 of Vancouver's wins this season have come when they have allowed their opponents three goals or less.

Next up for the Canucks will be their final game before Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. Tuesday evening, the Canucks will entertain the Minnesota Wild. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

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