It was that kind of night for the Blue Jackets, and it happened to come against one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
Highlighted by a hat trick from R.J. Umberger, three assists from Derick Brassard and a maginifcient 39-save effort by Steve Mason, Columbus ended the Carolina Hurricanes' four-game winning streak before 15,085 at Nationwide Arena. Using their speed and quick transition game, the Blue Jackets exploited the Hurricanes defense and dented the usually-steady Cam Ward for five goals in their second-biggest offensive outburst of the season.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring at 6:50 of the first period on a nicely-executed set play. With the face-off just outside the offensive blue line, David Savard hit Jack Johnson with a pass at the line and he burst into the zone, dropping a pass to Vinny Prospal at the left circle. Prospal’s 13th of the season squeezed through Cam Ward for a 1-0 lead. Umberger’s first of the night was a 50-foot knuckler midway through the second power with Columbus on a power play – he took one look and let it rip, the puck sailing under Ward’s glove to make it a 2-0 game.
Brassard’s second assist of the game was a beautiful cross-ice pass to Umberger off the rush, and the latter made no mistake to rip it top-shelf at 14:36, making it a 3-1 lead for the Blue Jackets. After Columbus successfully killed off a lengthy two-man advantage to start the third period, they went back on the attack in the latter stages of regulation. Umberger completed the hat trick with 5:02 to play – off yet another Brassard pass – and Mark Letestu scored the fifth goal at the 16:45 mark for the 5-1 final score.
The Blue Jackets picked up their fifth consecutive win over the Hurricanes, a streak dating back to 2005. Mason improved to 4-0-0 in his career against Carolina.
Brett Lebda was called for tripping in the closing minute of the second period, and Brassard flipped the puck over the glass inside his own blue line just 25 seconds later, setting up a 5-on-3 for the Hurricanes with a two-goal deficit to overcome. The Blue Jackets got a superb penalty-killing effort from Ryan Russell, Derek Dorsett, and their goaltender – holding the Hurricanes off the board and reversing the flow of the game.
Mason improved to 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in four career games against Carolina. He has won six of his last eight starts and is 9-5-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .921 save percentage his last 15 games after going 1-7-1 with a 3.73 goals-against average and .880 save percentage the previous 10 games.
Prospal has goals in two of the last four games after scoring his 13th of the season tonight. He added an assist and now has 3-9-12 the last 15 games after being held to 1-4-5 the previous 18 games. In 55 career games against Carolina, he has 20-28-48 and is +14.
Johnson has points in six of the last 10 games after notching two assists on the night. The assists give him 100 for his NHL career (356 games). He has 3-5-8 the last 10 games, while playing 25-plus minutes in the last nine games, including 26:55 tonight.
Savard has points in two of the last four games after tallying an assist on Prospal’s goal. He has 1-2-3 the last four games after being held pointless the previous six games.
Umberger snapped a seven-game goalless skid with a hat trick tonight. He had last scored Mar. 6 vs. Phoenix. The hat trick was the third of his career and first since Nov. 30, 2009 vs. St. Louis. The multi-goal outing was his second in the last 20 games after he went the previous 58 games without one.
Brassard registered three assists on the night, his first points in six games. He last had a point Mar. 8 vs. Los Angeles. The three-assist game matched a single game high and was the second of his career (Nov. 11 vs. St. Louis). It marked his seventh multi-point game of the season. He has tallied 10-20-30 the last 41 games after opening the season with 2-3-5 the first 24 games.
vs. Edmonton Oilers
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Sunday, 3 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan FM & BlueJackets.com