Blue Jackets 3, Kings 1

Jack Johnson spent almost five full seasons with the Los Angeles

Kings. Yet he’s found a home in just six games with the Columbus

Blue Jackets.

Mark Letestu scored twice and Johnson had a goal against his

former teammates to lead the Blue Jackets to their fourth straight

win Thursday night, a 3-1 victory that ended the Kings’ three-game

winning streak.

”This one felt good. This has been a really great change for

me,” Johnson said after getting a goal in his second straight game

for his new team – and the first against his old team. ”I’ve been

excited to come to the rink every day. These guys here have a blast

here at the rink and it’s carrying over onto the ice. Guys are

loose and having fun. That’s what this game is supposed to be all

about.”

Meanwhile, the Kings lost a game they badly needed. They came

into the contest in a tight battle for the last playoff spot in the

West. Instead, they were outplayed for most of the night.

”It was a disappointing start,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter

said. ”You break down Columbus’ last three games and they’ve had

2-0 leads on all three teams, Phoenix twice and Colorado. That was

our focus, to not get behind and to try and match their energy

early. We weren’t all able to do that.”

It was only the second two-goal game of Letestu’s career, the

other coming when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Letestu had

not scored in 16 games. He gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead with a

redirect midway through the first period, then scored on a rebound

3 minutes into the second period to end the scoring.

”It’s just a matter of going to the net,” he said. ”It’s

tough to score in this league from outside. When you get to the net

and get a little puck luck, good things happen.”

Johnson and Letestu both spoke about building a team in

Columbus, which has been beset by bad decisions and disappointments

for most of the franchise’s 11 seasons.

The Blue Jackets got off to a horrendous start, but have shown

signs of turning things around lately.

”It’s about building something. Obviously we’re out of the

playoff race but building a culture, building a foundation for

something to work on next year,” Letestu said. ”Guys are really

buying into it and it’s showing on the ice.”

One of those guys is Johnson, acquired along with a first-round

pick from the Kings in the Feb. 22 deadline deal that sent Jeff

Carter to Los Angeles.

Carter was lustily booed whenever he touched the puck by a crowd

of 14,306. Acquired by the Blue Jackets from Philadelphia in a

blockbuster trade last summer, he never seemed to fit in Columbus.

He didn’t discuss the trade for several days after the deal and

many fans saw that as a sign he was unhappy. After a nondescript

half season with the Blue Jackets, he was unloaded to the

scoring-starved Kings.

”I didn’t really think about what was going to happen,” Carter

said of the fans’ reaction. ”I just kind of went in and played my

game.”

One of the loudest cheers of the night came when he whiffed on

an open-ice shot late in the second period.

Before the game, the Blue Jackets offered free nameplates to

fans who brought in Carter’s No. 7 jersey with Columbus – placing a

piece of fabric over his name with that of the new No. 7,

Johnson.

”It’s easy,” Carter said with a shrug.

Columbus interim coach Todd Richards was asked who got the best

of the trade between the Kings and Blue Jackets.

”Tonight, obviously, I thought our No. 7 was pretty good,” he

said. ”He was really good. Scoring a goal, you could see the

emotion there.”

Carter scored with 8.5 seconds left in the opening period to

break a 1-1 tie and give the Blue Jackets the lead for good.

Blue Jackets starting goalie Steve Mason had 16 saves before he

left with an injury, with Curtis Sanford coming on in relief to

make 13 stops. Vinny Prospal added two assists.

Mason’s left hand was cut by the skate of teammate John Moore

after Moore was knocked into the net by Alex Martinez midway

through the second period. It took 15 stitches to close the

wound.

Richards said Mason would not be able to play for several days,

pending a medical evaluation Friday. Mason did return to the bench

for the third period.

The Blue Jackets had not won four games in a row since Nov.

17-22, 2010 – a span of 131 games.

Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal for the Kings. Jonathan

Bernier had 33 saves.

Sutter was asked about the recent inconsistent play of Carter

and former Flyers teammate Mike Richards.

”I’m not going to single any of that out,” Sutter said. ”The

only thing that kept us alive tonight was Jonathan Bernier and our

penalty kill. Other than that, it was pretty much right across (the

board).”

Notes: Columbus was without C Derek MacKenzie (concussion) and D

Fedor Tyutin (broken right hand). Richards said Tyutin is not

expected to return this season. … Dustin Brown (5-5-10) extended

his points streak to six games for the Kings, while Kopitar (3-3-6)

now has a five-game streak. … The game was the second of a

four-game road trip for Los Angeles, which next goes to Detroit and

Chicago. … Columbus RW Derek Dorsett left with an upper-body

injury and didn’t play in the third period.

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