VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks are
finding ways to win on home ice even when their performance is not up to par.
It helped Friday night that they were taking on a Columbus team that is struggling on the road.
Anson Carter had a goal and two assists, helping the Canucks overcome a slow start to beat the slumping Blue Jackets 5-3 and remain perfect in seven home games.
"We got away with one here," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund, who scored into an empty net with 10 seconds left.
Carter netted the eventual winning goal 2:23 into the third, when he one-timed Daniel Sedin's pass into the high slot past Marc Denis. Henrik Sedin scored on a three-way passing play started by Carter to put Vancouver ahead 3-2 with 1:33 left in the second period.
"The key was we didn't panic," said Carter, who came within inches of matching his scoring totals from the first 13 games when he hit the post. "We didn't change our game plan. In the past we might have panicked and pressed and opened up a bit and given up some untimely goals, but tonight we stuck to our system."
Defensemen Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund both had power-play goals in the second period for the Canucks, who were outplayed in
the opening period and failed to score first at home for the first time all season.
"Give them credit, that's the hardest I've seen Columbus play in the years we've played them," said Naslund, who added an assist. "They gave us a good game."
It was certainly the best game Nikolai Zherdev has played this season.
One night after being a healthy scratch, Zherdev scored two goals and an assist for the Blue Jackets. He had just one goal, three assists and a minus-9 rating his first 13 games.
"It was really tough not playing," Zherdev said through an interpreter. "I know pretty much it was my fault. I tried to do my best today. I just wish I could score the third goal."
David Vyborny also scored for the Blue Jackets, who were swept on their four-game road trip and have lost eight of nine away from home.
Despite playing for the second straight night, Columbus was the better team through 20 minutes. Zherdev's one-timed slap shot from just inside the blue line eluded Alex Auld on the blocker side to open the scoring at 7:36.
But Columbus, playing without star Rick Nash after he sprained his knee Thursday, was undone by a string of penalties and Vancouver's power play in the second.
First it was Ohlund's point shot tipped past a screened Denis by the stick of teammate Jan Hrdina at 5:29. Salo's blast from the top of the right circle and through Todd Bertuzzi's screen beat Denis six minutes later.
"When we get three goals from our offense we have to find a way to get points," said Denis, who finished with 21 saves.
Vyborny tied it on the power play when he tried to go around Vancouver's Trevor Linden, who kicked the puck into his own net. Sedin restored the Canucks' lead less than a minute later.
Auld, starting his second straight game since Dan Cloutier
suffered a concussion, finished with 21 saves to improve to 5-0-1. But he needed help.
Hrdina came close to scoring in each of the first two periods with shots that were trickling toward the goal line after Auld got a piece of them. Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski swiped the puck away before it went in both times.
"They worked and battled hard and we had to gut it out," Auld said.
Naslund, Salo and Henrik Sedin each added assists. ... Nash, who had just returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a high ankle sprain, was placed on the injured list and will undergo an MRI when the team returns to Columbus on Saturday. ... Vancouver center Josh Green and backup goalie Rob McVicar both dressed after being recalled earlier in the day. The pair were in the lineup Wednesday but sent down to AHL Manitoba. They were required to make the 2½-hour flight on Thursday to save the Canucks from counting their pay for the day against the salary cap.