for this game

Blue Jackets, Leclaire shut out struggling Wild

Nov 23, 2007 - 10:55 PM
By Brian Hall PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) - The Minnesota Wild can't blame a post-Thanksgiving letdown, because things have been bad for quite a while.

Pascal Leclaire made 32 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and Michael Peca had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets coasted to a 4-0 victory over the Wild on Friday.

The Wild have lost five of their last six games and are just 4-9-1 since storming to a 7-0-1 start this season. Columbus had not been much better as of late - the win was just its second in nine games and it ended a three-game losing streak.

"I think it was a statement game for us, to each other," Peca said. "At the end of the day, we could care less what other people think about us - if they don't think we are going to make the playoffs, how good they think we are.

"All that mattered is how we view ourselves and how much we expect out of ourselves. We did that. It was gut-check time as they say, and the guys responded."

On the flip side, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said his team just hasn't been doing the little things.

"The guys are struggling to do too much and do more, instead of trying to keep it simple and work a little harder - and that is not what we are doing now," Lemaire said.

Leclaire finally got out of a personal slump that had seen him go 1-3-1 with a 3.57 goals-against average over his last five games. His best work came early in the third period, when he made several big stops while the Blue Jackets killed off a 5-on-3 power play opportunity.

"I don't get down on myself," Leclaire said. "I am honest. I know when I play good and when I am not on. I forget pretty quick. Yesterday, I got back with Clint Malarchuk, our goalie coach, and just tried to keep it simple - be more patient. I am good when I do that."

The Wild's power play finished 0-for-9, doing little to support goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who made 25 saves in defeat.

In earning the seventh shutout of his career, Leclaire stopped 10 shots in both the first and second periods, and 12 in the third to improve to 3-1-0 all-time against the Wild.

Peca, returning to the lineup after missing six games with a groin injury, started the scoring with a power-play goal at 3:27 in the first period. It was the second goal of the season for Peca, whose shot from the point deflected past a screened Backstrom.

"I have been anxious to get back in, felt really good physically for the last four or five days," Peca said. "I didn't want to just come back in and exist. I wanted to come back in and play important minutes in important situations. I'm glad I was able to help out."

David Vyborny padded the lead with a power-play goal at 7:06 of the second period. Duvie Westcott controlled the puck at the point and fired it on net. Backstrom made the initial stop, but allowed a rebound right in front of the net, where Vyborny picked up the loose puck and flipped a backhander for his second goal of the season.

The sluggishness of the Wild, who fell to 10-3-1 against Columbus in St. Paul, really showed during Dan Fritsche's shorthanded goal later in the second.

With Peca in the penalty box, Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns controlled the puck in his defensive zone. Fritsche pressured Burns, who lost control of the puck in front of Backstrom.

The loose puck quickly ended up on the stick of Fritsche, who had no trouble burying his third goal of the season.

"It's tough for us now, so every goal that is scored, it's a big goal for the other team," Backstrom said. "We can't think too much on that. You are going to have good and bad bounces through the whole season. Everybody in this locker room has played enough hockey to know what is going on. You just have to work harder and believe that it is going to turn around."

Rick Nash scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season early in the third to put the game out of reach. The left wing has scored a goal in five consecutive games.

"We've played four of our last five games as well as we could play," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've really played well, and we haven't been rewarded. To get rewarded for playing hard and playing well is good for us because arguably, other than the game against Florida, we have deserved much better fate in games where we've played really well."






  • 10
    roots
    NJN007 Added 5 roots

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 23 6:33 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLUMBUS 1 2 1 4
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COB - (PP) MICHAEL PECA 2 (NIKOLAI ZHERDEV, RICK NASH) 3:27
    2ND PRD: COB - (PP) DAVID VYBORNY 2 (DUVIE WESTCOTT, RON HAINSEY)
    7:06
    COB - (SH) DAN FRITSCHE 3 (UNASSISTED) 12:32
    3RD PRD: COB - RICK NASH 16 (MICHAEL PEC

    Nov 23 4:32 PM


  • NHL
    COLUMBUS 4
    MINNESOTA 0
    3RD PRD: COB - RICK NASH 16 (MICHAEL PECA) 4:18

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 23 4:02 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLUMBUS 1 2 3
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COB - (PP) MICHAEL PECA 2 (NIKOLAI ZHERDEV, RICK NASH) 3:27
    2ND PRD: COB - (PP) DAVID VYBORNY 2 (DUVIE WESTCOTT, RON HAINSEY)
    7:06
    COB - (SH) DAN FRITSCHE 3 (UNASSISTED) 12:32
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST

    Nov 23 3:40 PM


  • NHL
    COLUMBUS 3
    MINNESOTA 0
    2ND PRD: COB - (SH) DAN FRITSCHE 3 (UNASSISTED) 12:32

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 23 3:28 PM


  • NHL
    COLUMBUS 2
    MINNESOTA 0
    2ND PRD: COB - (PP) DAVID VYBORNY 2 (DUVIE WESTCOTT, RON HAINSEY) 7:06

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 23 3:19 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COLUMBUS 1 1
    MINNESOTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: COB - (PP) MICHAEL PECA 2 (NIKOLAI ZHERDEV, RICK NASH) 3:27
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    COB 12 12
    MIN 10 10
    GOALIES: COB - PASCAL LECLAI

    Nov 23 2:47 PM


  • NHL
    COLUMBUS 1
    MINNESOTA 0
    1ST PRD: COB - (PP) MICHAEL PECA 2 (NIKOLAI ZHERDEV, RICK NASH) 3:27

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 23 2:16 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Flyboy Added 5 roots

    Blue Jackets vs. WildNov 12 8:07 PM