Allen York’s first career victory came amidst an eventful day around the rink, but in his second straight start tonight, he settled down and settled in as the Blue Jackets took control.
R.J. Umberger and Nikita Nikitin each scored a pair of goals and York made 30 saves, leading Columbus to a second consecutive win by dropping the Florida Panthers 4-1 in front of a lively crowd of 17,994 at Nationwide Arena. Interim head coach Todd Richards talked about needing a fast start to the game given the Panthers had played the night before in Minnesota, and the Blue Jackets roared out of the gate and got on the board early.
Derick Brassard started an effulgent 2-on-1 with Umberger at the offensive blue line, feeding the puck across the net mouth for Umberger to cash his 16th goal of the season at 3:41. Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore had no chance as his defense fell apart around him.
After killing a 100-second 5-on-3 midway through the opening period, the Blue Jackets extended their lead by a pair just under 12 minutes into the second period. Nikitin took a pass at the center point from Mark Letestu and ripped a wrist shot over Theodore’s stick-side shoulder at 11:48 with Derek Dorsett providing the screen.
Nikitin’s second goal of the game was started by a Ryan Johansen face-off win in the offensive zone, and the big defenseman stepped into another wrist shot that eluded Theodore at 3:01 of the third period. At that point, it was 3-0 Columbus and the Panthers had essentially run out of gas. They did get on the board with a goal from Tomas Kopecky at 7:57 of the third, but that’s as close as Florida would get. Umberger’s second goal sailed into the empty net with 47.1 seconds to play, and sealed the 4-1 final score.
Leading 1-0 early in the first period and with the game still hanging in the balance, the Blue Jackets took two minor penalties just 20 seconds apart to give the Panthers a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage (1:40). Florida registered seven shots on the power play, but York came up big with several stops to negate all momentum the Panthers tried to build.
Columbus is 3-3-0 its last six games after going winless the previous four games. The club has scored 18 goals the last five games (3.6 per game) after being held to eight goals the previous six games (1.33 per game).
Umberger has goals in three of the last five games after scoring two goals tonight. He had been held goalless the previous seven games. It was his third multi-goal outing the last 21 games after going the previous 58 without one. He has collected 6-2-8 the last five games after being held pointless the previous six games.
Brassard has points in four of the last five games after registering an assist on Umberger’s goal. He has 2-4-6 during that stretch after being held pointless the previous six games. He has tallied 12-21-33 the last 45 games after opening the season with 2-3-5 the first 24 games.
Letestu has points in four of the last five games after picking up an assist on Nikitin’s first goal. He has collected 6-4-10 the last 13 games after being held to 0-2-2 the previous nine games. It was his first assist in six games as he last had a helper Mar. 17 at Vancouver.
Prospal has points in three-straight games after registering an assist on Nikitin’s first goal. He has tallied 2-3-5 the last five games and 5-15-20 the last 28 games after being held to 2-5-7 the previous 21 games. In 59 career games against the Panthers, he has 14-32-46.
vs. St. Louis Blues
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com