Captain Nash leads Jackets on West Coast road trip

Despite a 6-3 loss at Calgary Tuesday night, Columbus Blue Jackets fans have plenty to get excited about watching captain Rick Nash. The 25-year-old dazzled Calgary (6-2-1) goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff with his team-high fourth goal of the season. Down two men, Nash sped into the Flames’ zone, beating defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a loose puck. Sweeping past Kiprusoff, the Jackets’ star sent the puck to the back of the net as Calgary fans sat in a daze looking on.Calgary was outworked by the Blue Jackets (5-2-0) in the second period, but mustered three unanswered goals against second-year goaltender Steve Mason to complete the win. Nash commented on Mason’s play after the game.“Everyone will have bad nights,” said Nash, who has collected a point in each of his last six games. “[Mason’s] won us a lot of games by himself and we didn’t give him much support.”Columbus will need to forget about the loss quickly as the Blue Jackets return to the ice in Edmonton at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. The team will wrap up the four-game road swing in six days with night matchups at Anaheim Saturday and at Los Angeles Sunday.Special teams successSpecial teams have been a strong point this year for the Jackets.The team collected two power play goals against the Flames and have converted 7 of 28 opportunities (25 percent) this season, which is ninth in the league.“We’ve done a lot of work on the power plays,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I think the players are comfortable with the transition we’ve had with it.”The Jackets continued their dominance shorthanded against Calgary and have now killed 28-of-29 (96.55 percent) opponent power plays this season, which is first in the NHL.“We made some significant changes in killing penalties,” Hitchcock said. “That’s been the most consistent, solid part of our game. We’ve tried to incorporate six forwards and be more comfortable doing that, rather than just using the four. We’re trying to have harder, more competitive reads in the penalty kill, and so far, it’s working.”Scouting the Oilers, Kings and DucksThe Jackets will have their hands full against the Edmonton Oilers (5-2-1), who have scored 29 goals in eight games. Oiler forward Dustin Penner has collected five goals with four assists to collect nine points early in the 2009-10 campaign.Columbus is 3-3-2 in the past eight games against Edmonton and will hope to take down the squad from the Northwest Division.Looking ahead to Anaheim (3-3-1), the Blue Jackets will need to take advantage of a struggling Ducks team at home. In the past three home games, Anaheim is 1-2-0 and has been outscored 11 to four. Right wing Corey Perry leads the Ducks with four goals and three assists in seven games.Rounding out the weekend in southern California, the Jackets will meet the Kings for the second time this season. Columbus defeated LA, 4-1, at home Oct. 17.During that game, forward Raffi Torres broke a tie on a power play goal late in the second period, while Nash contributed with a shorthanded goal.The Jackets won three consecutive meetings against the Kings and hope to return to Columbus Monday with a winning state of mind.“If we’re going to be a better team, we need better play from those top six guys if we’re going to get to the next level,” Hitchcock said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *