VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Pierre-Luc Dubois happily shed one of the longest scoreless slumps of his career.
Dubois had a goal and an assist and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky returned from injury to stop 21 shots as the Columbus Blue Jackets improved their playoff chances with a 5-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Even after his breakout game, Dubois was looking for answers.
“I’ve never been in a slump like that probably in my life,” he said. “I have been in a slump where I wasn’t playing well, and I wasn’t getting points and didn’t wonder why because I wasn’t playing well.
“But this was a slump where some games I was playing really well and getting chances and just didn’t score. You start off getting frustrated and then it’s like ‘is this a joke, what’s going on?”
Dubois had gone 11 games without a point and 13 games without a goal.
Josh Anderson had two goals and an assist, and Ryan Dzingel and Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored for the Blue Jackets (41-30-4), who moved within two points of the Montreal Canadiens for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus also snapped a three-game road winless streak.
“We needed a win tonight,” Anderson said. “You look at the standings and every team is winning, not really helping us out too much.
“We have to treat every game from now on as a must win, really. This is the time of year where it’s fun hockey. We are playing for something here, we all know that.”
The shutout was the seventh of the season for Bobrovsky, who had missed one game due to an upper-body injury. Two of his best saves came in the second period when he stopped Bo Horvat and Markus Granlund on power plays.
“I felt pretty good,” Bobrovksy said. “I felt comfortable to play and I thought the guys helped me a lot out there. It’s a good team win.”
Thatcher Demko stopped 28 shots for Vancouver.
The Canucks (32-34-10) trail the Colorado Avalanche by seven points for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Vancouver lost 3-1 to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
It was the 10th time this season the Canucks have been shutout, the most of any team in the NHL.
A pair of turnovers helped the Blue Jackets build a 3-0 lead after two periods.
Dubois made it 2-0 with just 56 seconds gone in the second. Artemi Panarin picked off a pass then fed Dubois, who scored on a screened shot. Another turnover in the neutral zone allowed Anderson to carry the puck deep into the Vancouver zone. He passed to an open Dzingel, who scored on a backhand.
Columbus coach John Tortorella said he could see the boost the goal gave Dubois.
“When Luc scored, he started making plays, started carrying the puck, beating people,” said Tortorella. “He just looked so much more confident.”
Anderson scored the only goal of the first period at 16:19. He collected a loose puck near center ice that got past Horvat and skated around defenseman Derrick Pouliot before beating Demko with a shot.
The Blue Jackets continued the attack in the third. Anderson scored his second of the game on a 2-on-1 breakaway at 10:54. Bjorkstrand scored his 16th of the season at 7:32.
“I actually thought the first period we came out and had an emotional, intense, physical period,” Canucks coach Travis Green said.
“Then the second period we turned over a couple of pucks that turned into goals and I thought that deflated us a bit.”
NOTES: Left winger Sven Baertschi returned to the Canucks lineup after missing 53 games with a concussion. . Recently signed Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, out with an ankle bruise, skated Sunday. But head coach Travis Green says he needs a couple more practices before he can play. . Forward Josh Leivo missed the game due to illness. . Pouliot returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for six games. . There were boos midway through the first period when no penalty was called after Anderson hit Canucks defenseman Alex Edler from behind into the boards. . Vancouver center Tyler Motte left the game with an upper-body injury.
Blue Jackets: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Canucks: Host Anaheim on Tuesday.
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