VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Cory Schneider has filled in so well for star goalie Roberto Luongo that Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault might not send him back to the bench any time soon.
Schneider continued his stellar play Tuesday night, making 47 saves as the Canucks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1.
He posted his fifth straight victory since starting in place of the injured Luongo, who is now back to full health and watching from the bench.
``I haven't played this many games (consecutively) at the NHL level,' said Schneider who has been used sparingly during most of his two seasons with the Canucks after starting in the minors. ``It's been a little while, but once you get into that rhythm, it's something you don't really forget.'
Schneider has allowed four goals during his winning streak while posting two shutouts.
Daniel Sedin, David Booth, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows scored to help the Canucks win their fifth straight.
Samuel Pahlsson had the only goal for Columbus, which lost for the second time in three games. Curtis Sanford, who spent two seasons with Vancouver, made some stellar stops while recording 30 saves, but caught some bad breaks.
The Blue Jackets fell short despite outshooting the Canucks 48-34. Columbus finished 0 for 3 on the power play, while Vancouver was 0 for 2.
``You almost don't even think about it,' said Schneider of his strong play. ``It just kind of happens and you're seeing the puck well and you're moving and you're anticipating.
``The other times, they go in where nothing makes sense and you're just questioning yourself, and there are times when everything makes sense and you just seem to know the answer ahead of time. So this is one of those runs and you just try to maintain that level.'
The Canucks scored twice in the first period and took the lead into the third after a scoreless middle period.
Pahlsson's first goal of the season cut Vancouver's lead to 2-1 at 4:27 of the third period as whipped in a rebound while Columbus was short-handed.
Kesler replied 1:28 later, roofing a slap shot from the faceoff circle after Burrows faked a shot, freezing Sanford, and then passed. The goal came just 4 seconds after a Vancouver power play expired.
It was the third goal in four games for Kesler, who had struggled following offseason hip surgery that forced him to miss all of training camp and the preseason. He now has points in five straight games.
``It's nice,' Kesler said. ``Obviously, I'm a firm believer in sticking with the game plan.'
Burrows added an empty-netter in the final minute.
Columbus outshot Vancouver 22-12 in the third, and Vigneault said Schneider has been the Canucks' best player lately. However, he was not happy with the effort of his skaters.
``They say never critique a win, but obviously giving up 22 shots in the third period was not exactly part of the overall plan,' Vigneault said. ``They came at us, but Cory stood his ground and was again the best player on the ice tonight.'
Sanford played alongside Schneider with Manitoba of the AHL in 2008-09. He said Schneider is taking advantage of his rare opportunity to start several games in place of Luongo.
``He's a No. 1 goalie in this league,' Sanford said. ``He's got the ball right now, he's running with it, and it's no surprise. It's a little wild looking over at the bench and seeing Roberto over there.'
Sedin opened the scoring 3:19 into the game after Alex Edler's point shot hit his skate, and the Swede was left with an open net as Sanford was moving to stop the slap shot that never arrived.
Booth made it 2-0 with 2:18 to go in the first, poking the puck past Sanford after Dan Hamhuis' pass from the far corner grazed teammate Chris Higgins and then hit Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin's skate. The goal was Booth's second in three games after he struggled following an early-season trade from Florida.
``It was a huge change in my life, something I'd never been through,' Booth said. ``Coming in I was excited for it and I guess I want to do, maybe, a little too much. Now, I really understand that my game's simple. Just play fast, play in the corners and take pucks to the net.'
Between the two goals, Schneider made a number of excellent saves. Jeff Carter managed to squeeze a shot through the Canucks' goalie, but the puck trickled wide of the goalpost.
Early in the second period, Schneider stopped Rick Nash after the puck caromed off skates and he tried to jam it in. About a minute later, Sanford robbed Jannik Hansen on a one-timer. Then Schneider made several saves during a Columbus power play, when he also caught a break as Mark Letestu rang a shot off the post.
``It was almost like (Schneider) was made of Velcro,' Sanford said. ``He was just sucking everything in, wasn't giving us (many) second opportunities, and when we did get them, he was square.'
The Associated Press News Service
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