COLUMBUS, Ohio – Even with gold-medal winning goaltender Roberto Luongo taking the night off, the Vancouver Canucks had enough firepower to rally from behind twice.
Vancouver defenceman Christian Ehrhoff scored 1:33 into overtime to lift the Canucks past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Tuesday.
U.S. Olympic team member Ryan Kessler missed the net wide right but the puck caromed off the end boards to Ehrhoff, who snapped home a shot at the other side of the goal for his 12th.
“I just went with the guys and joined the play,” said Ehrhoff, a German Olympian. “It kind of took a good bounce for me, and I just put it on net and the goalie wasn’t there.”
Kyle Wellwood scored the tying goal, his eighth, with 5:19 left in regulation, converting a pass from Mason Raymond into a wide open net after a horrible giveaway by defenceman Grant Clitsome near the Columbus goal. Wellwood also had an assist.
“We find a way to get it done in the third in a league that’s very tough to come back,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said of his club that’s now 8-15-1 when trailing after two periods.
Alexandre Burrows also had a goal and assist, and Pavol Demitra found the net for Vancouver, who fell behind 2-0 after one period.
Andrew Raycroft finished with 27 saves filling in for Luongo.
Andrew Murray, Antoine Vermette and Derek Dorsett scored for Columbus. Clitsome, added to the roster as an emergency recall, had two assists in his first career NHL game.
Steve Mason had 27 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost their ninth game when leading after two periods.
Some players thought the two-week break for the Olympics had an effect on the play.
“Oh yeah, you’ve got to expect that,” Dorsett said. “You know you take 16 days off, or whatever it was, and you’re going to have some sloppy plays.”
Vancouver resumed its 14-game road trip, the longest in league history. The Canucks played the first eight before the Olympics, going 4-4, and don’t return to GM Place until March 13.
Vancouver carried the tempo most of the first period, but Columbus jumped ahead on two quick-strike scores with Clitsome springing the counterattacks.
Murray got the puck and chipped it past the Canucks defence into open space down the right wing. He zoomed in alone on Raycroft, beating him with a high shot for his first goal in a year.
On a similar play into the zone, Vermette, while falling down, whipped a shot under Raycroft’s glove that trickled over the goal line at 17:30 for his 20th. The goal withstood a video review.
The Canucks responded with two of their own in the middle frame, despite being outshot 16-6.
“They were all over us,” Vigneault said. “They had momentum. Razor came up real big.”
Burrows converted a between-the-legs pass from Wellwood from near the crease early in the period. The goal was the 27th for the fifth-year left wing, setting a personal career high in points.
“I was saying to him that I think it’s my first assist of 2010,” Wellwood said. “It’s definitely been hard to come by but it’s nice that he put one in for me.”
Demitra, who led Olympic scoring playing for Slovakia, followed at the 9:55 mark with his second, scooping up a loose puck in the slot and zipping it near side by Mason for the power-play tally.
Columbus regained the lead six minutes later when Clitsome cleared the puck to Jake Voracek at the Vancouver blue line. Voracek tapped it to Torres, the centre of several trade rumours. The sturdy winger then set up Dorsett, who converted a 2-on-1 for this third.
Notes: The Canucks won the season series 3-1. … Both teams entered the game having won three of their last five games before the Olympic break. … Blue Jackets interim coach Claude Noel is 3-1-2 since replacing Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 3. … Rick Nash’s seven-game point streak ended.