COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Carolina Hurricanes had already lost starting goaltender Cam Ward. Then they lost yet another game.
Rick Nash scored the Columbus Blue Jackets’ third goal in a 2:41 span of the third period to beat Carolina 3-2 Saturday night, the Hurricanes’ franchise-record 12th consecutive game without a win.
“We were right in the game until we allowed those quick goals,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s the way its been going for us lately.”
Nikita Filatov and Jared Boll also scored goals for the Blue Jackets, who have picked up points in their last five games. Goalie Steve Mason, who had 24 saves, assisted on Boll’s go-ahead goal.
“They are a desperate hockey club (and) they played like it,” Mason said of the Hurricanes, intending “desperate” as a compliment. “The way we responded in the third period was nice to see.”
Erik Cole and Tim Gleason had goals for Carolina, which lost goalie Cam Ward who was cut on the thigh by a skate during the first period and taken by ambulance to a hospital for further evaluation.
Maurice said Ward would most likely spend the night in the hospital because of concerns about the stress of the flight home.
“He’s a critical piece, there’s not question about that,” the coach said of the impact of losing Ward. “That’s going to be tough to take.”
The Hurricanes, who lost their sixth in a row overall, have not won since a 7-2 victory over Florida on Oct. 9. Since then, they have gone 0-9-3, eclipsing an 11-game winless streak in 2003. They are also winless in their last nine road games (0-7-2) and remain the only NHL team without a victory away from home.
Carolina led 1-0 going into the third period – only the second time all season they’ve led with one period left. Columbus was 0-4 when trailing through two periods.
“We played one period today and got away with it,” the Blue Jackets’ Ken Hitchcock said after his 999th NHL game as a head coach.
Fifty seconds into the third period, Carolina’s Brandon Sutter fanned on a clearing attempt and Derek Dorsett’s blind, no-look centring feed found Filatov who was crashing the net.
“We just went out there like crazy and played with more energy, which is why we scored three goals in about five minutes,” Filatov said.
Just over two minutes later, Boll was skating along the short boards in front of the Carolina bench when Joe Corvo lost his stick while trying to poke the puck away. Boll sped past Corvo and was all alone with Ward’s replacement, Michael Leighton, beating him inside the near post for his first of the year.
“They were outracing us to pucks in the first and second. They had a little more jump than us,” Boll said. “Mase played awesome, like he has all year. He obviously stole the game for us.”
Maurice called a timeout to settle his team, which was coming off a 3-2 loss at home to Toronto on Friday night.
Another 36 seconds later, Nash intercepted Gleason’s pass for Zach Boychuk deep in the defensive zone. Nash coasted in and slipped the puck into the net for his 11th.
The Hurricanes pulled to 3-2 on Gleason’s one-timer from just inside the blue-line with eight minutes remaining.
Mason did the rest, not allowing a goal on Carolina’s five power plays – including almost two full minutes of 5-on-3.
Ward left at the 7:35 mark of the first period after he was apparently nicked by a skate. Nash swooped in from the right across the crease while being shadowed by a defenceman, although there appeared to be very little contact with Ward. Still, Ward went down on all fours for a minute before he was slowly helped off the ice by two trainers, blood drops trailing him to the dressing room.
“It’s kind of what has been going on for us,” Leighton said. “We seem to be one goal away all the time.”
NOTES: The Blue Jackets assigned F Alexandre Picard to Syracuse of the American Hockey League earlier in the day. An emergency recall, he was a healthy scratch on Thursday in his only game. … Carolina is scoreless on its last 30 power plays. … R.J. Umberger hit the back boards awkwardly in the third period and skated off slowly, but was able to return.