Blue Jackets chase Luongo, beat Canucks
Columbus captain Rick Nash was impressed by his team's ability to get a big lead fast, but not nearly as much by how they held onto it.
Kristian Huselius, Rostislav Klesla and Nikita Filatov scored over a 3:44 span early in the second period to chase star Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo and lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the Canucks on Monday night.
After Antoine Vermette scored with 42 seconds left in the first period to tie the game, Huselius started the scoring spree by using Nash as a decoy off the rush and blowing a wrist shot past Luongo's glove at 2:07. Klesla scored on a wrist shot through traffic at 5:29, and Filatov finished a 3-on-2 with a shot through Luongo's legs 22 seconds later to give Columbus a 4-1 lead.
"It was impressive," said Nash, who had three assists as Columbus opened the season with consecutive wins for the first time in franchise history. "We had tons of chances, we were moving it, and we were getting some good shots off. It was really fun hockey for us."
The fun ended shortly after the Blue Jackets went up by three goals.
Christian Ehrhoff responded three minutes later, and Willie Mitchell pulled the Canucks within a goal 7:37 into the third period as Vancouver blitzed the Blue Jackets goal. But Steve Mason, who finished with 40 saves, made a big glove stop off Mikael Samuelsson and another great pad denial on Alexandre Burrows just before Fedor Tyutin made it 5-3 on the power play with 4:57 left to play.
"We dominated the first half of the second period and then we really sat back, Nash added. "We have to find a happy medium, somewhere between there and how we finished."
Vancouver isn't having problems finishing, but slow starts have been costly.
Henrik Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who have lost their first three games of the season for the first time since 2001 despite averaging 40 shots a game.
"We got ourselves into a hole early and kind of like the fist two games tried to battle back," said Luongo. "But it's tough come back in this league."
It's even tougher when your star goaltender is struggling.
Luongo, who signed a 12-year, $64-million contract extension late in the summer, came in with an uncharacteristic .857 save percentage, and left after giving up Filatov scored having given up four goals on just 12 shots.
"A lot of the chances are coming off the rush so we have to make sure have a third man high and limit the rushes, but at the same time I've got to make some saves here," said Luongo.
Sedin opened the scoring with 4:31 left in the first period, and Vancouver had a great chance to extend its lead with a lengthy 5-on-3. But after Russian rookie Sergei Shirokov missed a couple of great chances the Blue Jackets tied it just as the second penalty ended, with Nash feeding Vermette a backdoor tap in.
"To kill off a 5-on-3 and score that goal and come into the locker room tied was a huge momentum swing," said Nash.
It kept swinging against Luongo early in the second period.
"You get scored on a backdoor tap-in and all of a sudden you are subconsciously trying to play both guys," said Luongo. "And you're not playing the shooter and you end up being deep in your net and that's how the second goal went in. You just have to focus on your job and trust your teammates.
Backup Andrew Raycroft stopped 11 of 12 in his surprise regular-season debut and almost got his first win as the Canucks rallied after Luongo was pulled.
"He's the least of my concerns, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Roberto is one of the best goaltenders and definitely one of the hardest workers in this league, so he's going to find his game, like he always does."
Columbus forward Jared Boll left the game early in the first period after being slammed face-first into the boards, first by Rick Rypien and then by Darcy Hordichuk, who received a roughing penalty on the play.
"He is not good," coach Ken Hitchcock said of Boll, adding he wasn't sure if he'd be able to fly to San Jose with the team. "Some kind of concussion right now and I'm sure the league will be looking at the hit.
NOTES: Columbus D Mike Commodore has missed both games with a groin strain, but is skating and could make his season debut as a three-game road trip continues in San Jose on Thursday. D Anton Stralman, acquired from Calgary in a Sept. 28 trade, finally joined the Blue Jackets in Vancouver after a delay getting his U.S. work visa, but did not play.