The Blue Jackets were the “other 20 percent” tonight. And they earned it.
Facing an opponent that wins 80 percent of its games in which it scores the first goal, and a team that plays exceedingly well on the road, the Blue Jackets played their game and hung on at the end for a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes before 14,119 at Nationwide Arena. It was the first home win for Columbus since Dec. 13, 2011 vs. the Vancouver Canucks, and the first win as interim head coach for Todd Richards.
Eerily similar to an Oct. 25 game vs. the Detroit Red Wings, the Blue Jackets got a pair of goals from a pair of rookies. Tomas Kubalik tied the game early in the first period (5:32) for his first NHL goal, tipping in a centering feed from defenseman Aaron Johnson. In the opening minutes of the second period, Ryan Russell scooped up a rebound from a Samuel Pahlsson shot and wrapped in his first career marker to give Columbus a 3-1 advantage.
The loss for the Coyotes was just their 23rd in 107 games under Dave Tippett when tallying first, and Adrian Aucoin’s slap shot at 1:49 of the first period gave them a 1-0 lead – but it didn’t last long thanks to Kubalik. From there, the Blue Jackets never trailed after getting the 2-1 goal from captain Rick Nash and fended off a pair of Phoenix rallies to seal the two points.
Lauri Korpikoski scored a goal off his skate boot to make it 3-2 at 8:48 of the second period and the red-hot Radim Vrbata pulled the Coyotes within 4-3 at 11:12 of the third, but the Blue Jackets averted the pressure and Derick Brassard’s late-second period marker stood as the winner.
Curtis Sanford was strong in goal for the Blue Jackets, making 32 saves including a handful that kept the Blue Jackets in the lead. His first-period, glove-handed robbery of Raffi Torres was definitely his finest of the game.
The Coyotes made this a one-goal game on the Korpikoski goal, and the fluke tally temporarily gave them life despite being dominated in the early stages of the second period. And though they were close on the scoreboard, the Brassard goal went a long way toward sinking their ship.
He weaved his way through the slot and found an opening over the shoulder of goaltender Jason LaBarbera for his sixth goal of the season.
The Blue Jackets allowed the first goal of the game for the 21st time this season. The club is now 2-17-2 in those games, while going 6-2-1 when leading after the first period and 10-6-2 when leading after two periods. Columbus is now 14-21-6 all-time against Phoenix, including a 9-10-2 mark at Nationwide Arena.
Vermette has points in back-to-back games after notching an assist on Kubalik’s goal. He has tallied 2-2-4 the last seven games after being held pointless the previous eight games. He also won 10-of-15 faceoffs on the night.
Nash has goals in two of the last three games after scoring his team leading 15th of the season tonight. He has scored 11 goals the last 24 games after being held to four goals the first 19 games of the season. He has collected 11-7-18 the last 25 games after being held to 1-3-4 the previous 10 games. He now has 15-15-30 in 31 career games against the Coyotes.
David Savard has assists in three-straight games, including an assist on Nash’s goal. He also has assists in five of the last eight games.
Brassard has points in three of the last four games after recording a goal and assist tonight. He has collected 3-6-9 the last 14 games after being held to 0-1-1 the 12 games prior and 2-2-4 the first 20 games of the season. He has 5-5-10 in 13 career games against Phoenix.
Dorsett has assists in two of the last three games. He had gone the previous 16 games without an assist. He has 6-4-10 the last 28 games after being held to 1-0-1 the first 13 games of the season.
vs. San Jose Sharks
Nationwide Arena | Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com