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Canucks ride 2nd-period outburst for much-needed win

Sportsnet logo Sportsnet 2018-01-13 Iain MacIntyre
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A team that has trouble scoring – and winning – did both Friday night as the Vancouver Canucks ended a five-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Canucks, who had scored only five times in their previous four games, pumped in four goals in the second period alone to get their first National Hockey League road win since November.

In his third-game back from injury after missing a month with a broken jaw, Sven Baertschi returned to the scoresheet by finishing from Thomas Vanek’s pass into a semi-open net to tie the game 1-1 on a power play at 1:19 of the middle period.

Erik Gudbranson’s 45-foot one-timer beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky cleanly to make it 2-1 at 5:38. And as if Gudbranson scoring his fourth goal in three seasons wasn’t evidence enough that something cosmic was happening with the Canucks attack, Brendan Gaunce made it 3-1 on a 2-on-1 at 14:31.

But Gaunce didn’t “just” score. The third-year checking forward, whose only two goals in his first 103 NHL games bounced in off his shin pads, torqued his stick so hard the shaft snapped as he shot the puck, which slid like a 40-m.p.h. change-up through a bewildered Bobrovsky. At least Gaunce finally scored one with his stick, even if half of it was lying on the ice.

Alexander Edler then banked a point shot in off Blue Jacket defenceman Markus Nutivaara at 17:15 to cap the Canucks’ most productive period this season.

Goals by Gaunce and Gudbranson, bounces off Blue Jackets, three pucks off the posts around Canuck goalie Jacob Markstrom – yes, it was that kind of night for Vancouver.

Goodness knows the Canucks needed it.

Columbus, which went ahead 1-0 at 4:33 of the first period on Seth Jones’ power-play shot from the top of the circle, made it closer at 12:35 of the third period when Scott Harrington’s point shot drifted through traffic and past Markstrom.

But Markstrom finished with 27 saves for his first win since Dec. 28 and Jake Virtanen added an empty-netter.

Now 1-2-1 on their five-game trip, the Canucks were scheduled to fly through a snowstorm post-game to face the Minnesota Wild Sunday in St. Paul.

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