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game recap

Blue Jackets hold off Canucks, end two-game skid

Columbus moves back into wild-card spot in East; Vancouver has lost five of six

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

Pettersson's ridiculous goal

CBJ@VAN: Pettersson goes five-hole for fantastic goal

Elias Pettersson shows off his speed and beats the defender to the puck, then scores while falling to the ice for a spectacular goal

  • 00:35 •

VANCOUVER -- Elvis Merzlikins made 26 saves, and the Columbus Blue Jackets moved into the first wild card from the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Sunday.

Emil Bemstrom and Eric Robinson scored in the second period for the Blue Jackets (33-22-15), who were coming off a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and won on the road for the first time since Feb. 2 (0-3-4 in previous eight).

"I'm happy for the team, happy we showed the great character, the strong character we have," said Merzlikins, who was playing his first game since Feb. 24 (five games) because of a concussion. "We came in really late last night. We could take a lot of excuses that we are really tired, we slept just five hours, but we didn't. We were really working hard and I'm really proud of my team."


[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Canucks highlights]


Columbus went 1-1-1 on a Western Canada road trip and leads the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders by two points in the wild-card race. 

"All three games this trip we have played good hockey and to come in on a back-to-back, grab the two points, get three out of six on the trip, we just keep on scratching," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "But I think all three games we played really well and the way we have to play."

Elias Pettersson scored, and Thatcher Demko made 20 saves for the Canucks (35-27-6), who have lost five of their past six games. Vancouver is tied with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, one point behind the Minnesota Wild.

"You've got to push through it and focus on ourselves," Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. "The more you scoreboard watch, the more you focus on other teams instead of yourself and it's going to bite you."

Video: CBJ@VAN: Bemstrom rips Dubois' pass by Demko

Bemstrom put Columbus ahead 1-0 at 7:18 of the second period with a one timer from the right hash marks after receiving a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois from below the goal line.

"I'm trying to find those open spaces on the ice," said Bemstrom, who has scored five of his 10 goals this season in the past eight games. "I have to keep finding that ice."

Robinson made it 2-0 on another play from below the goal line with 28 seconds left in the second. David Savard skated around the back of the net and passed to Robinson for a one-timer from the high slot past a screened Demko.

"Just trying to get it off as quick as possible and to top part of the net," Robinson said. "If you're moving east to west below the net, it's tough on the goalie, so it pays off a couple times."

Video: CBJ@VAN: Savard, Robinson connect for late goal

Columbus blew a 2-0 lead in the third period and lost 3-2 in overtime to the Calgary Flames to open its road trip on Wednesday, but had eight shots in the first three minutes of the third against Vancouver.

"That's the mentality, get on your toes rather than sit back," Robinson said.

However, Pettersson scored on a breakaway 12 seconds after exiting the penalty box to cut it to 2-1 at 8:19 of the third period, scoring five-hole on Merzlikins while falling to the ice after being tripped by Ryan Murray.

"I was angry," Pettersson said about his elbowing penalty. "I was trying to be positive so I just tried to use my anger as fuel."

The Canucks had a chance to tie the game on a power play less than three minutes later when Bemstrom was called for holding, but only got one shot on net.

"It's frustrating but you have to give them credit," Horvat said. "They buy into their system, they've won in the playoffs, and they know what it takes to get there. They go out and protect leads."


They said it

"It was a game in the mud for a lot it. We liked that game to be played that way for us, especially coming in a back-to-back." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella 

"It's frustrating. We're in games and we feel like we should be winning and we're playing good, but it's just the time of the year where everybody's playing good, if not great, and finding ways to win. So we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and come together to say it's time to start playing great hockey and not just good hockey." -- Canucks forward Tyler Toffoli


Need to know

Murray was minus-1 in 23:37 of ice time after missing the Oilers game because of an undisclosed injury. ... Canucks forward Brock Boeser, who is tied for fifth on the team with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games, skated with teammates Sunday for the first time since sustaining a rib cartilage fracture on Feb. 8.


What's next

Blue Jackets: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

Canucks: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SNP, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Video: Merzlikins, Blue Jackets push past Canucks, 2-1

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