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The Columbus Blue Jackets have a chance to conclude their western Canadian road trip with consecutive wins over fellow playoff contenders.
Given their recent history against the Vancouver Canucks, that chance appears to be a good one.
The Blue Jackets look to continue their newfound dominance of the Canucks and move into a fifth-place tie in the Western Conference when they wrap up their three-game swing Sunday night in Vancouver.
After opening its trip Tuesday with a 4-1 loss at Northwest Division-leading Calgary, the Blue Jackets (31-25-6) again managed only a single goal - a third-period tally by Raffi Torres - Thursday in Edmonton. This time, though, rookie Steve Mason made the goal stand up, stopping 19 shots for his eighth shutout of the season in the 1-0 victory.
That kept Columbus ahead of the Oilers in the tightly-packed West, where only 13 points separate fifth-place Vancouver (31-22-8) from last-place Colorado.
"This was like a playoff game," Columbus' Rick Nash said. "This is a team that we have to beat if we want to make the playoffs. This was huge. We're on a road trip, we lost our last two and it was a great effort tonight by all 20 guys."
Beating the Canucks would similarly help the Blue Jackets, who would tie Vancouver in the standings with a victory at GM Place. They would also sweep the season series for the first time.
Columbus won just seven of its first 26 matchups with Vancouver, but has defeated the Canucks five straight times since the start of the 2008 calendar year. That includes three games this season with a 6-5 shootout triumph on Jan. 18 in Vancouver - the most recent contest.
Nash had a goal and two assists during regulation before notching the game-winning score in the shootout.
The Blue Jackets captain has had multiple points in each meeting with the Canucks this season, totaling two goals and five assists.
This time, though, the Blue Jackets must contend with a Vancouver club has won five of its last six games and nine of 11 since the start of February. The Canucks completed a perfect 4-0-0 month at home Friday with a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay.
Steve Bernier scored the go-ahead goal at 9:26 of the third period on a shot that deflected off Vincent Lecavalier's skate. Though it was the 13th goal of the season for Bernier, it ended a personal eight-game drought during which he failed to score on several prime chances.
"So many times you got good chances and don't score and it's one of those, a lucky goal," Bernier said. "We'll take it and hopefully the confidence keeps building."
Bernier has four goals in eight games versus the Blue Jackets, including one in the Jan. 18 loss.
Roberto Luongo made 20 saves to earn the win Friday. He's been in net for two of the losses to Columbus this season, and has dropped six of his last seven decisions against the Blue Jackets.