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Horvat scores 2, streaking Canucks post gritty 4-3 comeback win over Blue Jackets

Vancouver has won 5 straight since hiring Bruce Boudreau as coach
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins (90), of Latvia, stops Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser (6) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Bo Horvat scored twice and the Vancouver Canucks gritted out a 4-3 comeback win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Horvat buried his second of the game on a power play with 58.8 seconds left on the clock. Elias Pettersson and Vasily Podkolzin also scored for the Canucks (13-15-2) while Quinn Hughes collected three assists.

Eric Robinson had two goals for the Blue Jackets (14-12-1), who also got a goal from Max Domi and two assists from Alexandre Texier.

Vancouver’s Jaroslav Halak stopped 21-of-24 shots in his first start since Nov. 28 and Elvis Merzlikins made 35 saves for Columbus.

The victory extends the Canucks’ win streak to five games, all under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who took over on Dec. 5.

Vancouver went down to two defenceman midway through the first period after Tucker Poolman was pulled from the game and place in the NHL’s COVI-19 protocol.

He was the fourth Canucks player to enter protocol Tuesday, following fellow defencemen Luke Schenn and Brad Hunt, and winger Juho Lahmmikko.

Vancouver recalled Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks Tuesday to help bolster the depleted roster. To make room for the transaction, defenceman Travis Hamonic was placed on long-term injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

The Canucks came into the third period down 3-1 but refused to relent, outshooting the Blue Jackets 13-7 across the frame.

They got a prime opportunity with just 72 seconds left on the game clock when Blue Jackets defenceman Andrew Peeke was called for holding.

Vancouver called a timeout to scheme, then Horvat deflected a shot in past Merzlikins to give the home team a 4-3 lead with just 58.8 seconds to go.

The Canucks were 1-for-2 with the man advantage Tuesday and the Blue Jackets were scoreless on their lone power play.

Podkolzin buried the equalizer 9:35 into the third. The Russian rookie collected the puck from Hughes and fired a quick wrist shot in past the Columbus netminder.

Rogers Arena erupted in chants of “Bruce, there it is!” in tribute to the team’s head coach, Bruce Boudreau.

Vancouver nearly drew even earlier in the period when Pettersson sent Tyler Motte a slick pass, springing him for a breakaway. Merzlikins stuck out his right pad to stop the ensuing shot.

Pettersson narrowed the deficit to a single goal 4:07 into the third, picking up the rebound on a Garland’s shot and jamming a wrist shot in from the side of the net. It was the Swedish centre’s sixth goal of the season.

Tempers flared midway through the second after Columbus defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov cross-checked Conor Garland behind the net. Garland was quick to drop his gloves as the whistle blew, but no real blows were exchanged before the pair were separated by officials.

Garland was called for roughing and Gavrikov headed to the box for cross-checking, leaving each side with four men apiece.

Vancouver took advantage of the open ice, with Horvat getting the puck at the top of the circle, quickly assessing his options, then riffling a shot over Merzlikins for his eighth goal of the year.

The Canucks struggled mightily through the first period, getting solidly outchanced and repeatedly turning over pucks.

READ MORE: Three more Calgary Flames enter COVID-19 protocol, Canucks cancel practice

Robinson put away his second goal of the game 16:18 into the game. He beat Horvat and Tanner Pearson in a foot race through the neutral zone, got to the puck first and blasted a shot from inside the face-off circle, beating Halak glove side to give Columbus a 3-0 lead.

Domi put the visitors up earlier in the frame. Halak stopped a long bomb by Gabriel Carlsson but couldn’t control the rebound and Domi tapped it in from the side of the net.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring 4:20 into the first period off a two-on-one rush. Vancouver defenceman Noah Juulsen dropped to the ice in an attempt to stop a pass from Texier to Robinson, but his manoeuvre came too early. Texier dished the puck to Robinson at the top of the crease and the left-winger popped it in past Halak for his fourth goal of the season.

The Canucks will face the Sharks in San Jose on Thursday. The Blue Jackets will take on the Oilers in Edmonton the same night.

NOTES: Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson returned to the lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. … Juulsen played his first game for his hometown Canucks. Vancouver acquired the 24-year-old blue liner and Lahmmikko from the Florida Panthers in a trade for Olli Juolevi in October.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2021.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press