Jackets Drop Close One In Vancouver

Wednesday, 11.29.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Jackets Drop Close One In Vancouver
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -The Vancouver Canucks are still struggling to score. At least they took better care of their own end Tuesday night.

Markus Naslund scored midway through the second period and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves, giving the Canucks a 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was the 11th time in 13 games that the Canucks failed to score more than two goals, and the third straight contest they couldn't net more than one. But after losing their last two games by a 10-1 combined score, one was enough for the Canucks against Columbus.

"We talked about it before the game and we said these are the types of games we have to win, the 1-0, 2-1 games," Luongo said. "And when we got the lead we played really well defensively."

Naslund provided that lead 8:49 into the second after Henrik Sedin drew a pair of players just outside the Blue Jackets' blue line. He slipped the puck to a streaking Naslund, who split defensemen Anders Eriksson and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and broke in alone on Pascal Leclaire.

"Hank seems to have eyes in the back of his head sometimes," Naslund said. "He came through the middle and threw it to me and I was able to get between the Ds."

Naslund finished the play with a hard fake to the forehand before pulling the puck quickly across to his backhand and lifting his 12th goal high over a sprawled Leclaire.

"It was a nice goal by a great goal scorer," said Leclaire, who made 32 saves as the Blue Jackets lost for the ninth time in 10 games. "And that was the game."

Not before Luongo made a couple of great stops - and got one good break.

Shortly after Naslund scored, Luongo robbed Alexander Svitov with a sliding glove save at the end of a power play. Luongo then got a shoulder on Sergei Fedorov's shot from the slot with 5:23 left in the period, and was fortunate as the loose puck bounced on the goal line before he swiped it away. Referee Dennis LaRue signaled no goal, and the call stood after a lengthy video review.

"We looked at it, it looked like it was in," said Ken Hitchcock, who fell to 1-2 as Columbus' new coach. "You have to accept it, but it doesn't mean it's any easier."

In a matchup of two of the NHL's lowest-scoring teams - only New Jersey averages fewer goals per game - Columbus was shut out for the sixth time this season. The Blue Jackets had a power play for the final minute with Leclaire out for an extra attacker, but couldn't generate any good scoring chances as Vancouver snapped a two-game skid.

It was Luongo's second shutout this season.

"I think the win is nicer," the goalie said, adding that his best save came on Svitov's one-timer. "It was a pretty quick play and I was able to get across and, other than a couple more chances, they didn't really have that much."

Columbus finished 0-for-8 on the power play, failing to take advantage of four straight in the first period, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 28 seconds.

Leclaire kept his team in the game while it was outshot 14-6 in the first period. He stopped Matt Cooke on a short-handed 2-on-1, and again with a diving save on a rebound of a hard shot by Brendan Morrison.

Leclaire got a glove on Naslund's redirection from the slot and a pad on Trevor Linden's blast off the wing. He made another good save on Naslund in the second and got a break when Daniel Sedin rang a shot off the far post behind him 5 minutes into the third.

"Both teams' goalies made it low-scoring today," Hitchcock said. "Our guy was really good early and Roberto was really good late."

Notes: Daniel Sedin returned to the top line after missing one game with an abdominal strain and RW Jesse Schultz made his NHL debut on the second line with Morrison and Taylor Pyatt. ... Columbus RW Anson Carter, who left the Canucks as a free agent after scoring 33 goals playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin last season, was booed almost every time he touched the puck. ... Columbus started its five-game road trip without LW Fredrik Modin, who was left at home with an undisclosed lower-body injury but could rejoin the team on this trip.

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