VANCOUVER — Raffi Torres scored the winner in the eighth round of the shootout Tuesday to give the Vancouver Canucks breathing room atop the NHL standings with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Torres ended the suspense by skating in on goalie Steve Mason and rifling a shot over his blocker.
Mason Raymond and Alex Burrows also beat Mason on backhands earlier in the shootout.
Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette prolonged the shootout for Columbus.
Raymond scored for Vancouver in regulation while Scottie Upshall drew Columbus even in the second period.
The suddenly inconsistent Canucks boast the NHL's best record, but have only five wins in their last 10 games.
Their 40-15-9 record moved Vancouver three points clear of Philadelphia, the Eastern Conference leaders. Vancouver also has a five-point cushion over second-place Detroit in the West.
Philadelphia has two games in hand on the Canucks while the Red Wings have one.
The second straight loss dropped Columbus to 31-24-7 but the point for a regulation tie enabled the Jackets to continue a playoff push that has seen them win nine of 13 games.
The teams were tied 1-1 entering the third period but the Canucks found themselves outplayed by Columbus.
Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo faced several break-in attempts and finished with 30 saves while Mason blocked 25 for Columbus.
Raymond scored at 14:27 of a listless first period after linemate Ryan Kesler did much of the work.
Kesler beat defenceman Jan Hejda along the side boards and one-handed a pass to Raymond, who was in the clear and had time to deke Mason and score on a backhand.
The goal was Raymond's 11th of the season and ended a month-long 11-game drought.
The Blue Jackets outshot Vancouver 13-8 in the period and Luongo had to stand his ground to stone both Nash and Derek Dorsett on break-in attempts.
Upshall paid immediate dividends in the more physical second period after being acquired at Monday's trade deadline.
He tied the game after taking Sammy Pahlsson's pass, settling the puck and snapping a shot over Luongo's shoulder for his 17th goal of the season.
Earlier in the second period, R.J. Umberger had Luongo at his mercy when a breakaway left him alone in the Canuck zone after teammate Fedor Tyutin blocked Dan Hamhuis's shot.
Umberger lost control of the puck as he faked the sprawling Vancouver netminder and his shot attempt slid by the post.
Matt Calvert broke in on Luongo early in the third period but the goalie got enough leg pad on the shot to propel the puck over his net.
Upshall, who had a dangerous deflection on Luongo later in the period, drew a double minor for high-sticking Christian Ehrhoff but the Jackets stifled the Canucks' league-leading power play.
NOTES: Both clubs iced re-tooled lineups as a result of Monday's trade deadline ... Maxim Lapierre, obtained from Anaheim, centred Vancouver's fourth line and drew the game's first penalty ... he had three assists but no goals in a 21-game stint with the Ducks ... Jeff Tambellini joined him on the left wing after three games as a healthy scratch ... Upshall and defenceman Sami Lepisto joined the Jackets from Phoenix ... Columbus plays its remaining 22 regular-season games in 43 days.