Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said this morning that newcomers Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski are finally starting to feel comfortable in their surroundings. It proved to be quite prophetic a few hours later.
Carter scored two goals, Vinny Prospal had three assists and Antoine Vermette continued to heat up in a resounding 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena. Curtis Sanford stood tall between the pipes once again for Columbus, making 27 saves including 13 in the second period. Rick Nash ended his seven-game goalless drought with an empty-netter at 18:29 of the third.
And Carter got it started in grand fashion. Prospal led him with a pass through the neutral zone in the early minutes of the game, and once Carter crossed the blue line, he whipped a wrister through the legs of Chris Butler and over the shoulder of a stunned Henrik Karlsson for a 1-0 Blue Jackets lead at 3:01. It was the second jaw-dropping marker from Carter in as many games, following up a similar goal Saturday night in Nashville.
Vermette made it a two-goal bulge for Columbus at 6:45, finishing a mad scramble in front of Karlsson with a nifty move at the side of the goal. Derek Dorsett’s attempt slid to Vermette, who put the puck between his legs and underneath Karlsson. Calgary head coach Brent Sutter sensed danger after that goal and called his 30-second timeout.
But the Blue Jackets kept on coming.
T.J. Brodie and Alex Tanguay took minor penalties within a minute of each other, giving the Blue Jackets a two-man advantage less than five minutes into the second period. James Wisniewski had a good look at Karlsson between the circles, but the rebound came right to Carter’s feet and he buried it for a 3-0 lead at 5:28.
Nash’s empty-net goal ensured the final margin, and with the win, the Blue Jackets improved to 15-4-2 all-time against the Flames at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets held their two-goal lead through 25-plus minutes of tonight’s game, but even at 2-0, the Flames were still in the game. Putting Columbus on the two-man advantage – and the subsequent tally from Carter – really seemed to pull the plug on Calgary’s night.
Columbus had Prospal, Mark Letestu, Nash, Wisniewski and Carter out for the 5-on-3, and they overwhelmed the Flames’ defense. Carter was in perfect position and made no mistake with the put-back, his third goal in two games.
- Carter’s multi-goal game was his first as a Blue Jacket and first since last spring - Mar. 15, 2011 at Florida (with the Flyers) to be exact, a span of 22 games. The goals tonight mark his first points in six career games against Calgary.
- We’re 20 games in, and already running out of superlatives to describe Prospal’s play in a Columbus sweater. Prospal has points in 13 of 20 games this season after picking three assists on the night. It was his first three assist game since Feb. 13, 2007 vs. Phoenix (with Tampa Bay), a span of 309 games. He leads the team in goals, assists and points.
- Nikita Nikitin seems to be just fine flying under the radar since joining the Blue Jackets. He has assists in four of five games with a helper on Carter’s first goal. He has four assists with the Blue Jackets since being acquired from St. Louis for Kris Russell on Nov. 11. He has played in 23-plus minutes in all five games with Columbus, including a game-high 27:07 tonight.
- Statistical proof of Vermette’s offensive engine starting to warm up: he has goals in two of the past four games after scoring his second of the season tonight. He had gone 21 games without a goal prior to scoring Nov. 15 vs. Minnesota. He has collected 2-7-9 the last 14 games after opening the season pointless the first six games.
- Wisniewski has points in back-to-back games after recording an assist on Carter’s second goal. He has points in six of the last 11 games (1-7-8) and has played in 23-plus minutes in every game this season, including 23:24 tonight.
- Last, but certainly not least: the man in the cage. Sanford has posted back-to-back wins for the first time since winning three-straight Nov. 20-24, 2008. In four games with the Blue Jackets, he is 2-0-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
vs. New Jersey Devils
Prudential Center | Newark, NJ
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com