LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rick Nash impressed everybody but himself with a slick move to score the go-ahead goal.
The Columbus captain was far more excited when the surging Blue Jackets ended an opponent’s lengthy winning streak for the second time in eight days.
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Nash scored the tiebreaker with 3:12 to play before adding an empty-netter in the final minute, and Columbus ended the Kings’ perfect home start to the season at eight games with a 5-3 victory Wednesday night.
A week after Columbus squashed St. Louis’ seven-game winning streak in a seven-goal rout, the Blue Jackets earned their fifth win in six road games with three unanswered third-period goals.
After Los Angeles’ Justin Williams and Columbus’ Jared Boll traded goals early in the third, even Nash thought the clubs were headed for overtime. Instead, Nash received a pass from Derick Brassard and made an exceptional stickhandling move past Davis Drewiske before firing a high shot past Jonathan Quick.
“Not many guys can do stuff like that,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “His confidence and his skill level are at a different level. That quick inside-outside move, and then the shot up high against a good goalie — when the guy does something like that and your jaw drops, that’s when it’s nice to be a spectator.”
While everybody else’s jaw dropped, Nash pretty much yawned at the fourth of his five goals in five games.
“I just tried to get around him and then get a shot up high, and it worked,” he said.
Columbus punctuated the best start in franchise history with this gritty win over the Kings, who were the NHL’s only remaining unbeaten home team.
Andrew Murray and Rostislav Klesla also scored in the opener of a three-game California road trip for the Blue Jackets, off to a franchise-record start on the road. Steve Mason stopped 33 shots for just his second win in November.
“It’s a huge win, especially when you’re going after the toughest team at home in the league,” Nash said. “We keep it simple on the road. At home, sometimes we play too loose, try to do too much. On the road, we play uptight, and we do things the right way.”
Drew Doughty had three assists, while Michal Handzus and Ryan Smyth also scored goals for the Kings, who have lost two straight after a six-game winning streak to fall out of the Western Conference lead.
Los Angeles, which lost 6-3 at San Jose on Monday, has allowed 11 goals in two games after yielding just four in the previous five games.
“The one thing that was out of the ordinary for us was that we had a lead in the third and let it go,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “That hasn’t happened in a long time here. We kind of let this one slip away.”
After seeing precious little worth criticizing in the season’s first month, Los Angeles coach Terry Murray has plenty for practice fodder this week. Too bad he won’t get much chance to use it: After playing just one road game so far in November, the Kings’ fast start will be challenged with four East Coast road games in six days, beginning Friday in Buffalo.
“We don’t like the way we’ve played here now in the last couple of games,” Murray said. “A couple of those goals look pretty easy for them, and that’s really out of character for us. When we have a one-goal lead in the third period like that, we’ve been able to shut down the rest of the game and do the right things to maintain the lead and win the game. So we just have to regroup on the road and be a lot better than what we were here tonight.
Quick’s personal seven-game winning streak also ended despite 21 saves, though he’s still off to the best start by a goalie in franchise history (10-2-0).
After Klesla scored on a long shot off the post in the second period, Smyth evened it with 1:22 left, circling the net with Williams’ rebound and backhanding the puck past Mason. The assist extended Williams’ points streak to a career-best 11 games.
Just 85 seconds into the third period, Jarret Stoll collected a rebound and made a slick pass through traffic to Williams for his team-leading ninth goal. Moments later, Boll surprisingly scored on a backhand — the second goal in three games for a physical forward who hadn’t found the net in the previous 18 games.
NOTES: Columbus D Mike Commodore had an assist in his return from a 13-game absence with an injured hand. … Williams is the first Los Angeles player with a 10-game scoring streak in nearly five years. Craig Conroy did it from December 2005 to January 2006. Luc Robitaille is the last Kings player with a longer streak, scoring in 15 straight in early 2000.