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Leclaire sets club shutout record in Blue Jackets' 4-0 win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Pascal Leclaire woke up thinking he had the day off.

The Columbus goalie ended up setting a club record and helping his team get back on track after a recent rough stretch.

Leclaire stopped 32 shots for his club-record sixth shutout of the season, Michael Peca had a goal and an assist in his return from a groin injury, and the Blue Jackets beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Friday.

The victory snapped Columbus' five-game road winless streak and gave the team its second win in seven games.

"We just wanted to come in and play a solid game today," said Leclaire, who started because backup Fredrik Norrena was sick. "I'm honest. I know when I play good. I know when I don't. Today I had to focus on being calm and patient."

David Vyborny, Dan Fritsche and Rick Nash also scored for Columbus, which took advantage of several turnovers by the Wild.

Minnesota has dropped 10 of its last 14.

"We just couldn't connect. Whether it was one of those days or whatnot, we couldn't make two, three passes in a row," Wild winger Mark Parrish said. "We couldn't make one pass. Bouncing over our sticks, not getting to the puck, not winning the battles to the puck, not getting pucks to the net. The list could go on and on. Frustrating. Very frustrating."

Columbus held team meetings the last two days to try and address its recent stretch of winless games. Peca felt players were not connecting with what the coaches were telling them.

"Collectively, we weren't getting the message sent down from the coaching staff," he said. "We needed to re-evaluate where we are and where we're capable of being."

Fritsche's goal in the second period gave Columbus a 3-0 lead and left Wild fans groaning in disbelief. With nobody pressuring him, Minnesota defenceman Brent Burns mishandled the puck in front of his own net, allowing Fritsche to swoop in and score a gift goal.

"That third goal seemed to unnerve them a little bit," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Peca stole the puck from Wild centre Dominic Moore behind the net to set up Nash's team-leading 16th goal that made it 4-0 early in the third.

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire held a long practice session on Thanksgiving that he hoped would snap his team out of its recent funk. It didn't, especially right away.

Columbus controlled the first 10 minutes of play, outshooting the Wild 10-2. The Blue Jackets scored first on a power-play goal from Peca, who had missed the previous six games.

"I'm trying to look at the overall picture," Lemaire said. "It goes like this, exactly what I told them after the second period: We are getting out of our game. The little things that make this team better, we're getting out of."

Vyborny scored his second goal of the season on the power play seven minutes into the second period.

The offence was more than enough for Leclaire, who entered Friday with a 2.0 goals-against average. His sixth shutout leads the league and broke the club record previously held by Marc Denis in 2002-03 and 2003-04.

"He (Leclaire) was our best player today," Hitchcock said. "We've played four of our last five as well as we can play and haven't been rewarded. It was nice to finally get rewarded."

The Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard thought he had a goal halfway through the third, but it was waved off when the referee blew his whistle thinking that Leclaire had the puck covered.

Before Friday's game, Minnesota had dominated Columbus at home, winning 10 of the past 13.

The game turned chippy late in the third after the Wild's Aaron Voros exited the penalty box and collided with Jiri Novotny. Columbus' Adam Foote took a 10-minute misconduct in the ensuing tangle.

Notes: Minnesota stayed busy on Thanksgiving by making seven transactions. It claimed winger Todd Fedoruk off re-entry waivers from Dallas and placed Center Mikko Koivu (leg) and defenceman Petteri Nummelin (nose and head) on injured reserve. Goalie Nolan Schaefer was called up from AHL Houston because backup goalie Josh Harding suffered a head injury in the third period of Wednesday's loss to Vancouver. Winger Aaron Voros was reassigned to Houston, but recalled a few hours later once Nummelin went on IR. ... Vyborny is one point shy of 300 for his career.


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