PIC OF THE GAME
(click for full view)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Ryan Kesler scored two goals and goaltender Curtis Sanford had a solid game in his first start of the season to lead the Vancouver Canucks past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Sunday night.
Markus Naslund and Kevin Bieksa added goals for the Canucks, who had lost their last two games. They won despite being outshot 20-0 during one lengthy span.
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 until he ripped a hard wrist shot high into the corner of the net.
Kesler, who played college hockey at Ohio State, stole the puck from Columbus' Nikolai Zherdev and scored on a shorthanded empty-netter after the Blue Jackets pulled their goaltender for a two-man advantage with just over a minute remaining.
"Ryan’s playing unbelievable right now, he is taking his game to another level," said linemate Matt Cooke. "He’s skating faster and makes the game real easy for Burr and I. We’re just trying to feed off it as much as possible."
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.
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 Bieksa scoring on a one-timer from the left dot. His shot found its way through five players in front of the net.
Scored a goal and finished the night with a +1 rating.
Made 35 saves to earn his first win in his first start of the year.
Scored the Blue Jacket’s lone goal and led all forwards with 23:12 TOI.
Columbus hadn't given up two goals in the first period in its first seven games.
"I don’t think we gave up a whole lot [after the first], they maybe had one or two chances but I think we had a pretty solid first period defensively," said Bieksa.
Sanford, getting his first start 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.
"We really didn’t have a quality second period that we were looking for," said Cooke on Sanford's 35-save night. "Curtis kept us in it and we got through it."
The Canucks failed to even get a shot on goal in the second period, during which Columbus outshot them 14-0. It matched the fewest shots ever in a period by the Canucks and was the second time that a Blue Jackets opponent failed to get off a shot in a period.
"[Head coach Ken Hitchcock] wants us play well in the defensive end and if we play well, we get more ice time," said Gilbert Brule, who saw his minutes go up tonight.
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.
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. David Vyborny, scoreless since the opener, picked up the primary assist on a pass from the right corner that Nash jammed at Sanford. After Sanford stopped that, Nash followed up for his fifth goal.
Despite the loss, Columbus' 3-3-1 start is its best ever through seven games.
Notes: 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. ... Vancouver C Trevor Linden, without a point in five games, still needs one assist to match the Vancouver club record of 411, held by Stan Smyl.