Columbus head coach John Tortorella wasn’t looking for any special fanfare in his first visit to Vancouver since the Canucks fired him after a single season.
“I think I got enough recognition when I got booted out of here,” said Tortorella after his Blue Jackets captured a 2-1 shootout victory over the Canucks on Thursday. “So I don’t need anymore around here.”
Alex Wennberg scored the only shootout goal as last-placed Columbus (20-28-5) handed the Canucks (20-19-12) their third straight loss.
Scott Hartnell scored on the power play in the third period for the Blue Jackets, while goalie Joonas Korpisalo was impressive in the Columbus with 37 saves.
Tortorella, who was let go by the Canucks in the 2014 off-season after the team failed to reach to the playoffs, was more interested in talking about Korpisalo. The young Finnish netminder withstood a barrage of shots in the third period and overtime to keep his team in the game.
“He’s unflappable as far as his mental toughness,” said Tortorella. “(It was) just a great experience for him as far as what he is doing for the club and for him as far as his confidence.”
Linden Vey scored in the first period for Vancouver, while Ryan Miller made 27 saves.
The game also marked the return of Henrik Sedin after the Canucks captain missed four games with a shoulder injury. Sedin was equally impressed with Korpisalo’s play.
“He was all over the place,” said Sedin. “We had some chances, but he came back and made some big saves. He’s been playing well for them.”
It was another frustrating ending for the Canucks, who have surrendered late goals in their last three games. Vancouver’s offence has been sputtering and head coach Willie Desjardins knows the trend can’t continue with his team four points behind Nashville for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
“If we’re going to get to the playoffs we need more,” said Desjardins. “And it’s from the whole team. Columbus played well. They came in and had good speed. And they got some good goaltending tonight and when that happens it’s tough to play a team like that.”
The Canucks opened the scoring at 10:55 on the man advantage with Cam Atkinson off for hooking. Bo Horvat sent a slick cross-ice pass to Vey, who one-timed it past Korpisalo for his second of the year.
Korpisalo made some nice saves in the second, including kicking out his pad to close the door on Alex Edler’s wraparound attempt midway through the period.
Columbus finally broke through midway through the period with Canucks centre Jared McCann in the penalty box for hooking. Hartnell tied the game at 9:06 when he fired the puck in from the slot for his 18th of the season.
“To get one, especially late to tie it up, was huge,” said Hartnell. “We moved the puck well. We got in the zone pretty good. It was a big one.”
Vancouver went on a 4-on-3 power play in overtime with William Karlsson off for interference. However, the Canucks couldn’t capitalize despite outshooting Columbus 4-1 in the extra frame.
“We had our opportunities and it didn’t work out,” said Miller. “We need to execute, we need to convert, and we need to get points.”
Notes: Vancouver defenceman Dan Hamhuis, who took part in the morning skate, was held out of the lineup. Hamhuis hasn’t played in nearly two months since taking a puck in the face against the Rangers. He’s expected to play Saturday when Vancouver hosts Calgary.Report Typo/Error