VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Power-play practice paid off for the Vancouver Canucks.
After working on the man advantage during the morning skate, Vancouver converted five of its 11 power plays against Columbus on Monday night. That included goals by Daniel Sedin and Markus Naslund 3 minutes apart in the third period to end a late Blue Jackets rally and seal a 7-4 win.
“Special teams was huge for us,” said Anson Carter, who set up Sedin’s power-play goal and scored one of his own at even strength. “We worked on the power play a little bit this morning because we realized that was going to be a big focal point in the game, and the special teams battle ended up being what tipped the scales for us tonight.”
That’s when the Blue Jackets’ bid to extend their franchise-record winning streak to six games ran into penalty trouble.
Sedin one-timed Carter’s drop pass under Marc Denis’ blocker with Adam Foote in the box at 4:32, and Naslund slid a backhand through Denis’ legs with Klesla serving a 4-minute penalty for high-sticking.
Trevor Linden added another power-play goal with 4:28 left as the Canucks won for the fourth time in five games to keep pace with Calgary atop the Northwest Division.
“We made it 4-3 and unfortunately we got a couple of calls after that we didn’t like and they scored on the power play,” Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. “They got a pretty good power play.”
The unit was criticized after going 2-for-25 in the previous five games, but Bertuzzi said he never doubted the Canucks’ eighth-ranked power play would turn things around.
“We’re confident in it,” he said. “Too many people get too impatient with it, but you can’t score every single power play, you can’t score every single game on it. It’s something we take a lot of pride in and work hard on. Tonight shows when you work hard you can get results like that.”
Gallant put the Canucks back on the power play with a bench minor right after Bertuzzi, who was cut by Klesla’s stick, set up Naslund’s goal.
“He was cut and bleeding all over his face and I thought the rule was you can’t come back on the ice if you’re bleeding, you got to be patched up,” Gallant said. “And he goes out there and sets up basically the winning goal.”
Gallant wasn’t, however, willing to pin any blame on his goaltending despite watching Denis allow all seven goals in just two periods of work.
After giving up four goals on 10 shots in the first, Denis was yanked in favor of Pascal Leclaire to start the second. Leclaire stopped all 16 shots he faced, but injured his back in the process, putting Denis back in to start the third.
Carter was left alone in the slot to convert Sedin’s pass from behind the net at 2:29 and Green was untouched in front of the Columbus net to redirect Tyler Bouck’s pass off the wing past Denis just more than a minute later.
Bertuzzi, who had one goal disallowed because he knocked the net off its moorings before scoring, scored one that counted to make it 3-0, converting a pretty power-play give-and-go with Brendan Morrison.
Ohlund made it 4-0 with a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circles.
“I don’t blame it on the goaltending, I blame it on us standing around sleeping in the first period,” Gallant said. “The only question was the Ohlund shot and that was a rocket from the high slot.”
At the other end, Alex Auld finished with 29 saves, including two breakaways and one penalty-shot stop on Nash, who finally added his second goal during a 5-on-3 power play with 1:15 left. It was the sixth time in seven games Auld has faced more than 30 shots—in three of those games he faced at least 40.
“We’ve really got to work on our defensive game,” said Auld, who also stopped a pair of breakaways by Jason Chimera. “We have to be tighter.”
Gallant said Leclaire “tweaked” his back but it wasn’t serious. … Sedin’s assist on Carter’s goal was his 200th point. Twin brother Henrik, who also assisted on the goal, earned his 200th point in the Canucks’ last game Saturday in Edmonton. … Vancouver improved to 82-21-14 when both twins record a point. … In an odd scheduling quirk, Columbus was waiting in Vancouver since playing in Edmonton late Thursday night while the Canucks wrapped up a seven-game road trip at Calgary on Friday and Edmonton on Saturday.