Sometimes you're good. Sometimes you're lucky. Put Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson down for the latter.
Samuelsson's fluke goal, a popup that wafted over the head of goaltender Steve Mason and into the net 7:56 into the third period, broke a tie and gave the Canucks a 4-3 victory at Columbus on Friday night.
After Sami Salo tied the game at 4:31 with a power-play slap shot that Mason never saw, Samuelsson put the Canucks ahead with one of the oddest goals of the season.
Samuelsson took a short pass from Ryan Kesler and tried a one-timer from the high slot. Columbus forward Derick Brassard got a stick on the puck at almost the same time that Samuelsson followed through, and the puck squirted into the air and slowly drifted toward the net -- dropping just behind a befuddled Mason before barely sliding over the goal line.
"I don't know what to say," Samuelsson said, a slight grin creasing the corners of his mouth. "It was obviously a lucky one. Everybody saw that."
Nolan Baumgartner and Kyle Wellwood also scored for the Canucks, who improved to 4-3-0 on their 14-game road trip, the longest in NHL history. With the Winter Olympics taking over GM Place, the Canucks have been on the road since Jan. 30. They finish an eight-game pre-Olympic trek Sunday in Minnesota, then play six in a row after the break away from home.
Given all that travel, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault will take any breaks he can get.
"We missed a few empty nets in the second, so we were probably due to get a break," Vigneault said. "We did get a break, and then [goalie Andrew] Raycroft shut them down."
Raycroft, giving starter Roberto Luongo a night off after a 3-0 win at Florida on Thursday, stopped 32 shots -- including all 19 he faced in the third period.
The game got off to a wild start. Rick Nash gave Columbus the lead just 22 seconds after the opening faceoff, Baumgartner tied it at 2:08 and Jared Boll put the Jackets back in front 30 seconds later.
The Blue Jackets went up 3-1 at 10:28 of the second period, on Raffi Torres' one-timer off a bouncing pass from Jakub Voracek. Before that goal could be announced, Mason mishandled a puck behind his own net that led to Wellwood's goal from the slot while Mason lay on the ice.
"We handled the adversity well," said Columbus interim coach Claude Noel, who lost for the first time after three victories since taking over for the fired Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 3. "We were good. I thought we were patient. Their fourth goal … would have sent anybody over the deep end."
Thrashers 3, Wild 2 | HIGHLIGHTS
Considering that the teams have combined for 69 one-goal decisions, it's not surprising that the Thrashers and Wild played another one -- with Atlanta's Niclas Bergfors breaking a 2-2 tie with 8:55 left in regulation.
Bergfors took a pass from Bryan Little at the Minnesota blue line and beat Niklas Backstrom with a perfectly placed slapper from the right circle that went over the goalie's right shoulder and just under the crossbar.
Bergfors, part of the haul the Thrashers received when they dealt Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey, has goals in his last three games after a 16-game goal drought. He has meshed seamlessly on a line with Little and Nik Antropov.
"I got a new start coming here, new team and everything," Bergfors said. "So far it's been very good. The two guys I'm playing with are great players so it makes it easy."
Coach John Anderson has been delighted with the way Bergfors has played since coming to the Thrashers.
"We've been lucky enough to have him mesh well with Nic and Lits. It seems like they've been playing together a long time," Anderson said.
Minnesota has lost back-to-back home games to Phoenix and Atlanta.
"I thought we played a lot harder and did things better than in the previous game, which is what we set out to do, but we came up one short," Wild coach Todd Richards said.
Bergfors' goal was the only one to be scored after a wild first period that saw both teams score twice.
Evander Kane gave the Thrashers the lead at 8:43 when he took a pass from Colby Armstrong and beat Backstrom with a wrist shot from the right dot. Andrew Brunette knocked a rebound past Johan Hedberg at 11:05 for a power-play goal and a 1-1 tie.
Andrew Ebbett crashed the net and banged the rebound of Cal Clutterbuck's shot behind Hedberg at 14:29, but Atlanta got even with 13.6 seconds left in the period when Antropov tipped home a slap shot by Pavel Kubina for a power-play goal. Antropov has 2 goals and 4 assists in the last three games.
The Thrashers blew a two-goal lead in the third period Wednesday, losing 4-3 in overtime at Colorado, and admitted there was some extra focus to play well. They moved within two points of the final Eastern Conference playoff position.
"We have a playoff mentality right now. Every game is important, and every game there's two points at stake and we need those points," Kane said. "We talked about the six points on this road trip and we wanted to get at least five of them. We have a big game at Chicago tomorrow."
Blues 4, Maple Leafs 0 | HIGHLIGHTS
One of the NHL's worst home teams had no trouble handling its next-to-poorest road team as the Blues rode a 30-save performance by Chris Mason to a win over the visiting Leafs.
T.J. Oshie and ex-Leaf Alex Steen scored shorthanded goals 3:40 apart in the second period put the game away. Andy McDonald scored 14:22 into the game and B.J. Crombeen added a third-period goal.
Mason did the rest as the Blues won back-to-back home games for the first time since Jan. 14-16.
"We were lucky our penalty kill was playing pretty well tonight," Oshie said. "We were playing in their end a little bit. We were fortunate to get those two goals, two hardworking goals."
Mason was quick to give credit for the shutout to his teammates.
"For the most part, we did a pretty good job of clearing the shooting lanes," Mason said. "Just seeing the puck pretty good."
The Maple Leafs are 2-13-2 on the road since Dec. 5 and were playing in their last game before the Olympic break.
"Maybe our minds weren't where they should be," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "This is our last game. I thought we made some bad mistakes. We made it pretty easy for them. They just played better than us. We didn't play very well."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report