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game recap

Saad's hat trick leads Blue Jackets past Hurricanes

Forward helps Columbus eliminate Carolina from playoff contention

by Kurt Dusterberg / Correspondent

Saad's first career hat trick

CBJ@CAR: Saad notches a pretty natural hat trick

4/2/16: Brandon Saad scores three goals in a row to earn his first natural hat trick, beginning the scoring with a beautiful breakaway goal

  • 02:16 •

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There have been few positives for the Columbus Blue Jackets recently, as they have struggled to find a winning rhythm in the final weeks of the season. 

Saturday night gave them a reason to feel good. 

Brandon Saad scored his first NHL hat trick and the Blue Jackets ended a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

Saad scored on a breakaway, then delivered on nice setups from linemates Sonny Milano and Alexander Wennberg. Milano, playing in his second NHL game, earned his first point. Boone Jenner added an insurance goal to reach 30 for the first time in his career. 

"It seems the last few nights, it's been happening against us," Saad said. "So to get one of these nights and to get confidence and different guys scoring goals, it was a lot of fun to be a part of."

Video: CBJ@CAR: Skinner breaks away from defense for a goal

Goalie Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves for the Blue Jackets (31-39-8) for his 15th win of the season. 

The Hurricanes (34-29-16) were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Jeff Skinner scored his 28th goal to give Carolina a 1-0 lead at 8:53 of the first period. After a pass from Victor Rask didn't connect, Skinner gathered the puck and moved around Blue Jackets defenseman Cody Goloubef before beating Korpisalo with a wrist shot to the far post. 

Saad made a strong individual play to tie the game at 1-1 at 14:17 of the first. Saad picked off Jay McClement's pass in the Columbus defensive zone then raced ahead for a breakaway, beating Eddie Lack for his 26th goal. 

Carolina outshot Columbus 17-6 in the first.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Jenner scores PPG as the clock expires

Saad made it 2-1 after a power move by Milano in the second period. Milano drove past Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin, circled the net and delivered a perfect backhand pass to Saad in front at 6:36. 

"I was just trying to play my game," said Milano, who was selected 16th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. "I saw Saad coming in late and he made a great shot. I'm more of a playmaker, where I make plays like that." 

After two games playing with Milano, Saad believes the 19-year-old has a strong skill-set. 

"It's pretty impressive," Saad said. "He can read the ice, he can make plays and obviously he's speedy. You see him on the forecheck and he's first to pucks and finds guys in the middle. He's fun to play with." 

Saad completed the hat trick when he drove the net and converted Wennberg's pass from the right corner at 18:43. David Savard started the play by chipping the puck deep to Wennberg. 

"Saad was flying and making great plays," Wennberg said. "It's one of those days when plays go through. Sonny's pass to Saad was unbelievable. You've got to have those plays in the game. You can't always just get the puck to the net. Sometimes you've got to make plays. It really shows the skill he has."

Video: CBJ@CAR: Bjorkstrand extends the Blue Jackets' lead

The Blue Jackets made it 4-1 on a 5-on-3 power play at 19:59. Lack stopped Seth Jones' slap shot, but Cam Atkinson found the rebound at the left post and fed Jenner for his 30th goal. Rask and Jaccob Slavin were in the penalty box for slashing and delay of game.

"It was definitely pretty cool, a mark I wanted to get at," Jenner said. "It was a great play by Cam on the goal, so credit to him." 

The Hurricanes managed just two shots in the second; Columbus controlled the possession game with a determined forecheck. 

"It got away from us for sure," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "It was 1-1 after 20 (minutes) and we thought it was going to continue to go that way without putting in the same amount of work as we did in the first 20." 

For Skinner, who has three goals in the past five games, Carolina's effort was not good enough. 

"The second period was not what we wanted," Skinner said. "We stopped moving our feet. It's tough to make plays when you're standing still. They took advantage and were able to create offensive chances for themselves."

Video: CBJ@CAR: Saad breaks tie off Milano's awesome feed

In the third period, Matt Calvert won a battle behind the net and set up Oliver Bjorkstrand, who slipped a shot inside the right post at 9:21. 

The goal was Bjorkstrand's third in his ninth NHL game. Savard picked up his second assist of the game. 

Korpisalo was sharp in the third. He stopped a shot that changed directions with Joakim Nordstrom in the slot, then late denied Jordan Staal from between the circles.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was reluctant to breathe a sigh of relief after the win. After losing eight of the previous ten (2-8-0), he was focused on the bigger picture. 

"There's no fun going on here and there won't be any fun during the rest of the week," Tortorella said. "It's just nice to have a decent feeling about yourself to win a hockey game. The guys that put that uniform on, they work at it. You want to get a result for them, so I'm happy for them."

Video: Saad hat trick paves way for Blue Jacket's 5-1 win

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