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Canucks Defeat Jackets In St. Patrick's Day Game

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks were due for a fortunate bounce.

Brendan Morrison's pass struck Columbus forward Manny Malhotra and caromed into the net, snapping a third-period tie Friday night and giving the Canucks a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets that ended a season-high, five-game losing streak.

Morrison's attempted centering pass from the left corner hit Malhotra and landed behind goaltender Pascal Leclaire with 6:11 remaining.

"It feels great," Morrison said of his flukey winning goal. "It's not really the way you draw it up, but at this point in time I don't really care."

Mattias Ohlund and Anson Carter also scored for the Canucks, who are struggling to stay in a playoff position. They entered the night in the final spot in the Western Conference, but Anaheim and San Jose have been closing quickly.

"Every game is big for us down the stretch," Carter said. "We've dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but I think we welcome the challenge."

Ron Hainsey and Malhotra scored for the Blue Jackets, well out of the playoff race and losers of three in a row. Columbus' last five games have been decided by one goal.

"Vancouver came in here and they haven't been playing very well," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "They didn't play very well tonight, either, but they played better than us."

With the score tied 1-1 entering the third period, the Blue Jackets took two early penalties - the only infractions of the frame. The Canucks capitalized on the second, just 4 seconds in.

Henrik Sedin won a faceoff at the left circle and poked the puck to Carter, who beat Leclaire with a backhand move at 7:56 to make it 2-1. Carter's 27th goal is one shy of his career high.

Carter was more interested in talking about the win than his goal.

"We got a big two points in a tough building to play, no matter what Columbus' record is," he said.

The Blue Jackets responded just 40 seconds later.

Jason Chimera won the puck behind the Canucks net and fed Malhotra, who beat Alex Auld with a one-timer.

Vancouver outshot Columbus 15-6 in the first period and pressured late behind three straight power plays.

Soon after the first half of the Canucks' two-man advantage expired, Todd Bertuzzi, working down low, zipped a pass through the crease to a breaking Ohlund. The defenseman converted a one-timed shot for his 10th goal - a power-play tally that made it 1-0 at 17:22.

Vancouver coach Marc Crawford sensed it was the start of something positive.

"We really stuck with what we had to do to win," he said. "I'm pleased that we got a payoff."

The Canucks took three penalties in the first five minutes of the second period and all five in the frame. Columbus had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:45 but couldn't get organized.

On the third power play, Hainsey, a defenseman, rushed the puck the length of the ice and caught a good bounce of the puck off Ohlund's leg to retain possession. He slid a backhand shot between the legs of Auld, who finished with 22 saves, to tie it 1-1 at 5:55.

"I was just trying to get through their first wave, and I did," Hainsey said.

Leclaire, a rookie, was given an assist for his first career point. He also stopped 30 shots.

"We've got to get back playing well and put a streak together because teams around us are winning," Morrison said.

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