Despite Carolina's Jeff Skinner opening the scoring, the Blue Jackets battled back and scored five unanswered goals, ending a four-game losing streak in a 5-1 win at PNC Arena tonight.
Brandon Saad led the charge with the first hat trick of his NHL career, and he made it a natural hat trick (three consecutive goals) to boot.
“It’s exciting,” Saad said of the hat trick. “It’s good to get the first one out of the way."
Saad recorded six shots on net and formed an alliance with line mates Alexander Wennberg and rookie Sonny Milano. Saad was quick to point out his success on the ice tonight was largely due to the chemistry he has found with those two, who provided great passes to set up his second and third goals.
"I played with some great linemates, great passes by Wenny and Sonny, and it felt good for sure," Saad added. "We seemed to connect tonight. Every game you keep (a) line together, you get more chemistry and I think we did a good job tonight.”
Saad’s first goal of the game came after he picked off a pass and used his speed to bury a top shelf breakaway goal on Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack at 14:17 of the first period, making it a 1-1 game after 20 minutes.
Milano picked up his first career NHL point on Saad’s second goal of the evening.
Milano used his speed and strength to circle behind the net and feed Saad for a one-timer that put the Jackets ahead 2-1 at 6:36 of the second period.
Saad completed the natural hat trick 12:07 later, tipping in a Wennberg pass from the goal line at 18:43 of the second, putting the Jackets up 3-1. The goal was his 28th of the season, and his hat trick was the 29th overall and sixth natural in Blue Jackets history.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella praised Saad’s line after the game, noting that they’ve found some chemistry in the past couple of games.
“That line has played pretty good,” Tortorella said. “Sonny’s come up and you can see he and Saader have a little chemistry, Wenny distributes the puck well and they found a way to score some goals.”
The Blue Jackets fourth goal came late in the third period when Boone Jenner scored his 30th goal of the season on a buzzer beater at 19:59 of the frame, putting the Jackets ahead 4-1. Jenner is the fifth player in Blue Jackets history to score 30-plus goals in a season.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the fifth and final goal of the game at 9:21 of the third period, and rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves for his 15th win of the season.
“There’s no fun going on here and there won’t be any fun during the rest of the week," Tortorella said. "But if you play the games, it’s just nice to have a decent feeling about yourself to win a hockey game and we haven’t won many as of late.
"Does it do anything standings-wise? No, but for the guys who put the uniforms on and work at it, you want to get a result, so I’m happy for them.”