VANCOUVER – When the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets come together the goals are far and few between.
Cory Schneider made 17 saves and Max Lapierre scored the shootout winning goal as the Canucks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 1-0 on Tuesday for their fifth straight victory.
The last two meetings between the clubs—both played in Columbus—have ended in a 2-1 result. One was a shootout victory for Vancouver on March 12, and the other an overtime win on March 8 for the Blue Jackets.
Schneider saw just two shots in the opening period on Tuesday and eight total shots through 40 minutes.
“It’s better than 40 shots, but it is challenging to just make sure you are sharp and ready and you haven’t really felt a puck and sometimes it’s nice to get a feel for it and just get your hands going and seal it up and stuff like that,” said Schneider.
“I haven’t really experienced a game like that at this level so it was a challenge.”
Schneider made a number of big stops in the third, including a few off of Nick Foligno, who was easily the most dangerous Blue Jacket with six shots.
However, the biggest save came from defenceman Dan Hamhuis with just over a minute to play when he slid across to kick out Foligno’s shot after taking a back-door pass.
“Just trying to help him out there,” said Hamhuis. “A desperation play, got lucky.”
Vancouver (18-9-6) moved past idle Minnesota into third-place in the Western Conference, and into the Northwest Division lead.
Columbus (13-13-7) moved up one spot to 10th in the West, but that single point can be attributed to Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
“He was by far out best player out there, he gave us a chance to maybe win in overtime,” said Vinny Prospal. “We don’t score enough goals as it is and today I don’t think we really played that hard as a team.”
While Bobrovsky entered the game with the league’s third-best goals-against average of 2.17, Columbus also has the NHL’s worst goals for average, with just 78 through 33 games.
Still, the 34-save shutout was Bobrovsky’s third-career clean sheet—with all three coming this month. He has been the major reason the Blue Jackets are 7-1-5 in their past 13 games.
“He was great,” said Matt Calvert, who was stopped on the game’s final shootout attempt by Schneider. “His timely saves were the biggest thing for us tonight, he was great in the first period. We weren’t generating a ton and we kind of settled in, tightened it up a bit, got a few chances here and there but he’s been our backbone all year and we’ve just got to support him a little more.”
“We threw something like 70 pucks near the net but when they didn`t block it or we missed the net, their goaltender was there to make the save so you`ve got to give them full credit on that,“ said Vigneault.
Lapierre was the only shooter to beat Bobrovsky.
“I was going backhand all the way, I do it in practice, it works,” said Lapierre. “I closed my eyes, and pray and it worked.”
Lapierre, who usually plays on the third or fourth line and has just two goals this season, is now 5-for-10 in his shootout career, including 1-for-2 this year.
“(The coaching staff) have been spending time in practice and both have said that Max has got some good moves,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “If you look at his overall track record he’s been near 50 per cent. So, I don`t know, it just worked out today. Sometimes it does.”
NOTES: Vancouver was without Ryan Kesler (foot), Zack Kassian (back) as well as bottom-six forwards Steve Pinnizotto and Dale Weise.…Columbus was without James Wisniewski, out day-to-day with a foot injury. Brandon Dubinsky is also day-to-day with a lower body injury.