COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—The way Ryan Kesler figures it, sometimes you lose when you shouldn’t and then you turn around and steal a win.
The former Ohio State hockey player returned home to score two goals, goalie Curtis Sanford made 35 saves in his first start of the season and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Sunday night.
“We should have won the game two nights ago,” Kesler said of a 4-2 home loss to Los Angeles. “I don’t think we should have won this game tonight the way we played. It’s a funny game that way. They didn’t capitalize on some of their opportunities in the second and we capitalized on our few. That was the outcome.”
“It was a barrage out there,” Sanford said. “That’s what happens when you kill penalties for a whole period. It was nice to come in after the second with the lead still. We knew we were still in a good situation. It was just up to us to go out in the third period, play our game and just get back to what makes us successful.”
Naslund’s goal gave the Canucks some breathing room. Ahead 2-1 and hanging on in the third period, Naslund controlled the puck as he skated down the right wing and then angled sharply toward the high slot, waiting patiently before ripping a hard wrist shot high into the corner of the net.
Kesler stole the puck from Columbus’ Nikolai Zherdev and scored on a short-handed empty-netter after the Blue Jackets pulled their goaltender for a two-man advantage with just over a minute remaining.
“We got a great performance by Ryan Kesler tonight,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “He played one of his best games since I’ve been here with the Canucks. Hopefully we’ve got him on the right track.”
Kesler stretched his points streak to three games—he had three assists in Vancouver’s last two games—when he scored on a wrister from the left circle on the Canucks’ first shot, 5:39 in. It was just a straightforward rush, with no one in front of the goal, yet it eluded Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire.
“That’s a save I have to make,” Leclaire said.
Kesler’s goal ended Leclaire’s home scoreless streak at 156:01. Leclaire, who came into this season with just one career shutout, has three this season including two in his only previous starts at home.
Vancouver made it 2-0 on its first power play, with Biekstra scoring on a one-timer from the left dot. His shot found its way through five players in front of the net.
Sanford, playing in relief of Roberto Luongo, had given up four goals in just 39 minutes in his only appearance this season. But he made a number of nice glove saves on the Blue Jackets, who outshot the Canucks 36-19.
Still, the Blue Jackets only scored one goal despite having six power-play chances and finished 1 for 10 with a man advantage. Vancouver was 1 for 6.
“When it’s 26-6 in shots after two periods and you’re down 2-1, it’s pretty obvious,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Our work and our determination gave us the opportunity to go on the power play a lot today and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
Rick Nash ran his goal streak to three games when he netted his own rebound during a 5-on-3 at the 2:38 mark of the second period.
The Canucks had gone without a shot in a period three previous times, most recently the opening period on Jan. 18, 2007, at Ottawa. … Columbus killed its first 17 penalties at home this season until Bieksa’s goal.