Jackets off to first-ever 2-0 start
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:17 AM
History was made in Vancouver on Monday night.
For the first time in the franchise's existence, the Columbus Blue Jackets
opened a season with back-to-back victories as Rick Nash
paced the club with three assists and Steve Mason
made 40 saves in a 5-3 victory against the Canucks at General Motors Place.
"This was a huge game for us," Mason said. "This is a tough place to come in and play, but our guys put forth a very good effort."
Meanwhile, Vancouver (0-3-0) is on the opposite side of the spectrum, as the Canucks have opened the season with three straight losses for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign. Vancouver -- which went 7-0-2 in the preseason -- dropped a 5-3 decision at Calgary on Thursday before being blanked in a 3-0 loss at Colorado on Saturday.
The Canucks got off to a good start when Henrik Sedin
broke a scoreless tie at 15:29 of the opening period, but Columbus responded with four unanswered goals. Antoine Vermette
erased the 1-0 deficit in the final minute of the first before Kristian Huselius
gave the Blue Jackets the lead just 2:07 into the second.
Rotislav Klesla put Columbus up by a pair when he tallied his second goal in as many games at 5:29 of the second off a feed from Kristian Huselius
. Rookie forward Nikita Filatov made it a 4-1 game just 22 seconds later with his first goal of the season, which prompted Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to pull Roberto Luongo
in favor of Andrew Raycroft.
Luongo allowed four goals on 12 shots, with the last three tallies coming in a span of 3:44. He's also allowed 11 goals in less than eight periods to start the season as his save percentage has fallen to .820.
"Obviously, I didn't have a great game," Luongo said. "We got ourselves into a hole early and it was kind of like the first couple of games, we tried to battle back. It's tough to make comebacks in this League."
Despite the captain's early-season struggles, Vigneault isn't about to panic.
"Roberto is one of the best goaltenders in the League and definitely one of the hardest workers in this League, so he's going to find his game like he always does," Vigneault said. "The other parts of our game are pretty good. Obviously, we're making a few mistakes, but we are generating a lot. We're not that far away."
Vancouver got on the comeback trail at 8:27 of the second on Christian Ehrhoff's first goal of the season. Willie Mitchell got the Canucks to within one when his blast from the point beat Mason 7:37 into the third period.
"We really ran out of gas," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "But we battled. Vancouver worked extremely hard, and they really competed at a high level throughout the game."
But the Canucks were unable to notch the equalizer, and Fedor Tyutin
iced the victory when his blast from the point went past Andrew Raycroft for a power-play goal with 3:57 remaining. Columbus will look to make it three in a row on Thursday at San Jose.
"We're starting off on the right foot for myself and for the team as a whole," said Mason, who has stopped 72 of 76 shots thus far. "We're just happy with the 2-0 start."
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.