| You couldn’t blame Kris Beech if he went back to make sure he scored in the right net.
Less than a week after Vancouver claimed him on waivers from Columbus, Beech returned to Nationwide Arena and scored against his former Blue Jackets teammates, albeit in a losing cause, as Columbus upended Vancouver 3-2 Tuesday night.
After the Blue Jackets jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, courtesy two powerplay goals in the first seven minutes, Beech took a nifty backhand feed from Byron Ritchie and one-timed the puck past Pascal Leclaire to make it 2-1.
But when asked if it felt different to score against his former goaltender, his former team, Beech said he was treating the game like any other. In fact, his former teammates made him.
“The way Danny Fritsche ran me there in one of the first shifts, I don’t think it’s too difficult,” said Beech. “You know, it’s the same as any other team. You’ve got to go out there and work hard and play hard.”
The goal was Beech’s first ever as a Canuck, his sixth of the season overall, and, most importantly, it pulled Vancouver into a game that looked like it might become a rout.
“Yeah, I think Roberto [Luongo] kept us in that [first] period and we took too many penalties,” said Beech. “You can’t come out against a team that’s going to be ready to play like that and take so many penalties when they’re so excited and hyper to play.”
Vancouver’s first penalty of the night went to Aaron Miller for hooking at 1:20.
Ron Hainsey took advantage less than a minute later when he fired a wrister from the point that went post-and-in. With Mike Peca setting a perfect screen, Luongo never had a chance.
Less than five minutes later, Nikolai Zherdev doubled the Columbus lead.
With Henrik Sedin in the box, again for hooking, Zherdev corralled the puck off the faceoff and fired a snapshot that beat Luongo five-hole. The goal came just two seconds after Henrik’s penalty began.
After Beech scored at the 16:53 mark of the first period, Daniel Sedin tied things up with a second period 5-on-3 goal.
Sami Salo froze the Columbus defenders with a slap-pass from the point to Henrik Sedin at the goal line. Henrik, in turn, flipped a pass out to Daniel who was all alone in front of the net. Daniel made no mistake.
But after Vancouver’s long uphill climb had appeared to end, the Canucks found themselves again trailing just three minutes later, when Jason Chimera took a Fritsche pass and redirected it past Luongo.
Ryan Kesler had Vancouver’s best chance to tie things up late in the third when he found a loose puck in the slot and fired it at the Columbus goal. Leclaire made the save and a frustrated Kesler broke his stick over his knee.
3 – Consecutive healthy scratches for Trevor Linden.
5 – Shots on goal for Markus Naslund in his 999th career NHL game.
6 – Blocked shots for Alex Edler, who was named to the YoungStars team earlier in the day.
21 – Minutes of ice time for Taylor Pyatt. Taylor returned to the lineup with a full cage after taking a puck in the face Sunday against St. Louis.
69 – Percent of the faceoffs Ryan Kesler took, he won (9-for-13). Kesler was the only Canuck over 50%.
The offense didn’t generate much of anything 5-on-5. The Sedins were held in check for most of the night, with Pyatt and Naslund both taking turns on their wing.
It was a tale of two defenses. In the first ten minutes, they gave up ten shots and were under siege. In the final 50 minutes, they gave up just 11 shots, most of which Luongo handled with ease.
Willie Mitchell had another big night and logged 26 minutes in a losing cause.
The powerplay did its job and cashed in on a second period 5-on-3 to tie things up. But the penalty kill struggled yet again, giving up goals on its first two opportunities. The PK has now surrendered six goals in Vancouver’s last four games.