Nash hat trick lifts Blue Jackets
Rick Nash's nagging groin injury has made him a game time decision recently.
It didn't seem to bother him much when the Columbus Blue Jackets took on the San Jose Sharks.
The captain scored three goals, Mathieu Garon recorded his third shutout in four games, and the Blue Jackets beat the Sharks 3-0 on Saturday night.
''He was sore after (Friday) night, but he took care of it today and got himself into the game,'' Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said of Nash. ''That's the kind of leader he is.''
Nash extended his goal-scoring streak to five games and his point streak to eight as the Blue Jackets earned their seventh road victory in eight games, the quickest they've reached that win total in the team's 10-season history. Garon made 35 saves.
''I'm a streaky player,'' Nash said. ''Early on, I couldn't bury them. To come into one of the toughest buildings in the league and get two points is huge.''
The Blue Jackets (12-6), off to the best start in team history, also recorded their first regulation win at San Jose and their first win of any kind there since Jan. 8, 2004.
''I can't remember ever leaving here happy,'' Nash said. ''We're usually in a hurry to get out of here. We finally cracked them here.''
The Blue Jackets also swept their three-game California trip for the first time.
Antero Niittymaki stopped 24 shots but lost his second game in regulation. The Sharks failed to record a point for the first time in eight games. Joe Pavelski, who needed nine stitches to close a cut caused by a flying puck in Dallas on Thursday, had his five-game point streak snapped.
''From the outset we were just off,'' San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle said. ''My legs weren't there, my hands weren't there. No matter how hard I tried, it didn't come together. It was a tough, frustrating night.''
Nash scored his first goal on a power play less than four minutes in. Crisp passing in front of the net by Anton Stralman and Derick Brassard opened a crease to Niittymaki's glove side for Nash, who has eight goals and three assists in his last eight games.
Nash added his second goal late in the second period after taking a pass from Jakub Voracek. The Blue Jackets are 9-0 when Voracek records a point.
Nash scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal the victory.
The Sharks, one of the top power-play teams in the NHL the past few seasons, failed on five advantages. San Jose hasn't scored in 15 power-play chances, its worst streak of the season.
''We needed to score on the power play,'' Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi said. ''If we get one it swings the momentum. Their goalie played great and they are a good, stubborn, defensive team.''
Garon, who went 17 games without recording a shutout before his current streak, recorded his 19th NHL blanking.
''It's always tough to win in this building,'' Garon said. ''We stuck together, blocked a lot of shots and stayed with it.''
Notes: C Joe Thornton played his 400th game since joining the Sharks. ... Before this season, the fastest that the Blue Jackets reached seven road wins was in 20 games two years ago. ... Boyle had his career-best, seven-game point streak snapped. ... Voracek recorded his 100th NHL point. ... Sharks D Niclas Wallin returned to the lineup after missing two games because of general soreness. D Doug Murray missed his fourth game with an undisclosed lower body injury. ... Brassard has points in 11 of 12 games. ... Columbus is 2-15-2 at HP Pavilion.