Brendan Gaunce’s power-play goal in the second period proved to be the winner as the visiting Vancouver Canucks downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Gaunce scored only his second goal in the past two seasons. He went all of 2016-17 without scoring.
“It was a big game for us, for our confidence,” he told Sportsnet.
Sven Baertschi, Erik Gudbranson, Alexander Edler and Jake Virtanen also scored as the Canucks posted their third win in the past 16 games.
“Today, we wanted to compete - that was our main goal,” Gaunce told Sportsnet.
Thomas Vanek had two assists for the Canucks, including the primary helper on Gaunce’s winning tally. Henrik Sedin also notched a pair of assists.
Seth Jones and Scott Harrington each scored for the Blue Jackets, who suffered their second straight loss.
Columbus held a 1-0 lead after the first period, but the Canucks answered with four unanswered goals in the second period. Two goals came on power plays.
Jones gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead on a slapshot at 4:33 of the first period. Henrik Sedin was off for holding at the time.
Baertschi drew the Canucks even on a power play 1:19 into the second period as he put in Vanek’s nifty backhand pass.
Slightly more than four minutes later, Gudbranson put the Canucks ahead 2-1 on another power play, firing in Loui Eriksson’s long pass from behind the net.
Gaunce extended Vancouver’s lead in another man-advantage situation at 14:31 of the second. Vanek provided another cheeky setup - a spin-around, backhand, cross-ice pass. Gaunce flubbed on his shot, but the puck still managed to go in off a Blue Jackets defenseman.
Edler gave the Canucks a 4-1 lead less than four minutes later. His slapshot from the point went in off a Columbus player in front of the net.
Harrington pulled Columbus within two goals on a long, high shot with 7:25 left in the game, but the Blue Jackets could not get any closer before Virtanen’s empty-netter closed out the scoring with less than 10 seconds to go.
--Field Level Media