COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jordan Staal scored twice as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 in a tightly contested game Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Staal scored the game-winner at 8:54 of the third period after scoring the tying goal 3:50 into the second period. Brock McGinn added an empty-net goal for Carolina, which won consecutive games for the second time this season
“You need to be able to play in tight games,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “We play in a lot of tight games and that is just the way it is right now. Be prepared to win a 2-1 or 3-2 game and play that way from the drop of the puck.”
Staal recorded his 12th career two-goal game and first since Feb. 25, 2012, for Pittsburgh against Tampa Bay.
Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus, which dropped its fourth straight.
“When we are playing well, they remind me of who we are; their defense pinching, creating turnovers and transitioning well,” Dubinsky said.
The Blue Jackets opened scoring after an impressive tape-to-tape outlet pass from center Tyler Motte found a hustling Dubinsky who beat Hurricanes defensemen Justin Faulk to the puck and to the net. Left winger Markus Hannikainen earned a second assist on the effort.
“(Motte) played fast, drew a penalty and stood out tonight with his skating. He had some good minutes for us,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
After a slow start to the season, Dubinsky has tallied a pair of goals and a pair of assists in his last five games.
Carolina capitalized on a miscue to tie the game.
After the Hurricanes gathered the wayward pass, defenseman Noah Hanifin feigned a shot from between the hash marks in front of Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and slid a pass to an unchallenged Staal standing at the side of the Blue Jackets net. Staal’s shot slowly crossed the goal line.
“I was fortunate enough to get it in, get us up and get two big points for us,” Staal said.
Teuvo Teravainen was credited with an assist on the play. He also had the primary assist on Staal’s second goal.
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced en route to his second victory of the season while Bobrovsky saved 26 of 28.
“These points are so huge right now and you’ve got to take advantage of these games,” Ward said. “The third period was my best and I’m happy the guys were able to get it done for me.”
“Wardo (Ward) was big,” Peters said. “He was outstanding. We’ve had great goaltending and his save percentage is climbing.”
Ward’s effort, especially in the third period in which he stopped a number of tough chances by Columbus did not go unnoticed by Tortorella.
“The third period was our best period,” Tortorella said. “I think we were the better team in the third period but couldn’t score. We had a great rebound in the third period and Ward made a couple of great saves there.”
While Tortorella seemed pleased about his team’s final period effort, he was less than impressed by his team’s performance in the opening period.
“The first period we were outskated,” he said. “They were so much quicker than we were. They were quicker thinkers, quicker with their sticks. We weren’t good. I thought our game started coming in the middle of the second. It’s hard to win when you’re not playing a full sixty.”
NOTES: Carolina D Brett Pesce returned to the lineup after missing three games with a concussion. … Columbus has not scored a power-play goal in four straight games (0-for-11) and is winless in those games. … The Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents 42-31 while playing at even strength and five-on-five. … Blue Jackets LW Matt Calvert and C Lukas Sedlak are on the injured reserve list. … Six Hurricane players, G Scott Darling, LW Teuvo Teravainen, C Marcus Kruger, D Trevor van Riemsdyk, LW Joakim Nordstrom and D Klas Dahlbeck began their careers with the Chicago Blackhawks. … On Saturday, it will be 20 years that the Columbus organization has been known as the Blue Jackets. On Nov. 11, 1997, team officials announced the name of the franchise. … Blue Jackets D Scott Harrington, LW Sonny Milano and C Zac Dalpe were scratched as were Carolina‘s D Klas Dahlbeck, RW Lee Stempniak and C Patrick Brown.