VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks gave goaltender Roberto Luongo plenty of chances to get warmed up and confident for a shootout.
After stopping four breakaways in regulation, Luongo stopped six more in the shootout before Raffi Torres scored the winning goal in the eighth round to give Vancouver a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
``It's all about confidence when you are in a shootout,' said Luongo, who was 2-5 in the tiebreaker this season and had given up 10 goals on 18 attempts. ``You don't want to be thinking too much and sometimes things haven't gone too well for me in that department and you start thinking a little bit.'
Luongo didn't have time to think during the breakaways during the game - three partial breaks and another from the opposite blue line - and said that helped, even after Columbus captain Rick Nash beat him in the first round of the shootout.
Luongo made two more saves before Mason Raymond, who scored the only goal in regulation, tied it in the third round. Antoine Vermette and Alex Burrows traded goals in the fifth round, and Steve Mason made a spectacular left pad save in the sixth before Torres snapped a low shot past Mason's glove to end the game.
``I hadn't seen the ice in a few minutes, so just wanted to make sure I got a good shot off,' said Torres, who played in Columbus last season. ``I wasn't going to try and deke or anything.'
Despite alternating wins and losses for the past 11 games, Vancouver extended its lead atop the NHL to three points over Philadelphia and five ahead of Detroit in the Western Conference.
``There was quite a few (breakaways) tonight,' said Luongo, who made 30 saves in the first 65 minutes. ``Those guys are desperate on the other side, obviously fighting for every point they can get and we just have to make sure we have that same desperation level right now.'
Scottie Upshall scored in his Blue Jackets debut after being acquired in a trade Monday, and watched nervously as his new teammates killed off his four-minute, high-sticking penalty with less than five minutes left. Columbus held the NHL's top power play to just two shots to secure a valuable point.
``It would be nice to finish that off with both points, but I thought we played a heck of a hockey game against a real good team in a tough building,' coach Scott Arniel said.
Mason made 14 of his 25 saves after the midway point of the third period to help 12th-place Columbus get at least a point for the 10th time in 12 games. But the Blue Jackets still fell five points behind a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the tight Western Conference.
``Tough to lose that second point when we are desperate for it,' said Nash.
Raymond ended an 11-game goal drought with 5:33 left in the first period after Ryan Kesler won a battle along the board to send him in alone. Raymond, who only had two goals in his previous 26 games and was dropped from the second to the fourth line midway through the last game, made a strong deke to his backhand before lifting the puck over Mason's extended left pad.
He made a similar move in the shootout.
``I have it in me, it's just a matter of going out there and doing it,' Raymond said. ``It's one game. It feels good and I hope it's a sign of things to come.'
Both teams had players making debuts after being acquired before the trade deadline Monday: Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto for Columbus, and fourth-line center Maxim Lapierre for the Canucks, and two of them combined on the Blue Jackets' goal 7:11 into the second.
Lapierre lost a battle with Derek Dorsett along the boards and he passed to Samuel Pahlsson, who relayed to Upshal for a quick snap shot over the left shoulder of Luongo, off the crossbar and in.
``It's a long day but it's over with,' said Upshall, who got stuck in Las Vegas overnight trying to get to Vancouver from Phoenix and had to get up at 5 a.m. for an early flight Tuesday.
``I'm looking forward to the new opportunity.'
Notes: Vancouver also added forward Chris Higgins from Florida in a separate trade Monday, but he has a broken thumb and is expected to miss at least another 10 games. ... The Blue Jackets continue their five-game road trip with games in Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Friday, the first of five sets of back-to-back games among their final 20. ... Columbus came in with multiple power play goals in four straight games for the first time since 2002, but was blanked on four attempts by the Canucks' third-ranked penalty kill.
The Associated Press News Service
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