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Blue Jackets top Kings for team-record 7th win in row

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The new year has been kind to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus has won eight of nine games this month and set a team record with its seventh victory in a row by beating the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 on Tuesday.

The previous record of six was from March 24 to April 3, 2006.

"It's special," Columbus right wing RJ Umberger said. "You don't want to get caught up in it, but it shows the direction this club is going. There's been a lot of hard moments here. The fans can enjoy it and deserve it, but we've got a lot more in us."

The streak is the longest active in the NHL and gives Blue Jackets the best point percentage since Jan. 1 (.889).

"It's an accomplishment for the players," coach Todd Richards said. "For me right now, we're in the middle of the season. It's great what the players accomplished, but it's just another game, another two points."

Umberger had two goals; Ryan Johansen and Nathan Horton each had one; and Artem Anisimov scored once and had an assist. James Wisniewski had two first-period assists for Columbus (25-20-4), which is 14-6-1 in its past 21 games.

Columbus took advantage of Los Angeles playing for the fourth time in six days on the road, including a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday.

"We're doing what bad teams are doing," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "We're allowing special-teams goals. We're allowing breakdown goals. When teams score goals against us, they need to earn them and earn them heavily. We haven't done that lately."

The Kings (29-16-6) are 1-2-1 as they prepare to visit the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night to complete their trip before playing the Ducks on Saturday at Dodger Stadium in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

"There's something to be said for catching a team at the right moment," Richards said. "We got these guys at a good time and we were able to benefit from that because they were starting to run out of gas."

Dwight King, former Blue Jackets right wing Jeff Carter and Robin Regehr scored for the Kings.

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves for his eighth straight win and sixth in a row since missing a month with a groin strain.

The Blue Jackets scored twice in the final 1:45 of the second period to break a 2-2 tie. Umberger had his second of the game, and Horton scored with 16 seconds left thanks to a pinpoint pass from Anisimov.

The goals came after Carter, who was booed every time he touched the puck, completed a 3-on-1 at 8:39 of the second to tie the score. He started the break by collecting the puck at center ice and skated down the right side. After a give-and-go with Mike Richards, Carter slipped a backhand through the pads of Bobrovsky for his s 20th goal. He has scored in four straight games.

The Blue Jackets took command at the expense of backup goalie Martin Jones, who got his first start since Jan. 2 after Jonathan Quick had played the past eight games.

Jones stopped 29 shots but had two goals go off his glove, including the one by Umberger that gave Columbus the lead for good in the second period. Umberger stole the puck from Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty along the left wall and fired from a bad angle. Jones misplayed the shot, and Umberger had his 13th goal.

"We fought hard to get back in it, 2-2," Jones said. "A bad goal changed the momentum, and that was the difference in the hockey game."

The goals were Umberger's first in eight games since scoring at the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 2.

Horton scored for the third time nine games since coming off the injured reserve list after offseason shoulder surgery. Anisimov did the bulk of the work by corralling a bouncing puck in the neutral before skating down the left side and spotting Horton in front for a wrist shot that went top shelf.

"We're clearly giving up goals against," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "The kids are kind of hitting the wall, some of the young guys."

Anisimov stuffed in his shot while being tripped at 15:19 of the third period to make it 5-2, but Regehr got it back at 16:50.

The Blue Jackets got a power-play goal from Umberger and a late score by Johansen to rally to a 2-1 first-period lead. They countered the opening goal by King, who put in a rebound of a Trevor Lewis shot at 2:42.

"We had trouble at the beginning of the year playing well and getting the results we wanted," Wisniewski said. "Every guy in this room deserves props for all the hard work we've been doing the last few weeks."

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