COLUMBUS, Ohio – Cal Clutterbuck created some chaos and then took advantage.
Clutterbuck followed a crushing hit with the decisive goal in the third period to lift the Minnesota Wild past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday night.
Clutterbuck broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third. He pounded Columbus’ Jake Voracek into the back boards, with Voracek taking out teammate Marc Methot. Clutterbuck then skated back to the crease where he took a feed from Eric Nystrom and scored into an almost empty net.
“It was just a normal forecheck,” he said of the glass-shaking, bone-jarring hit. “I managed to catch a guy with his head down a little bit. I hit him pretty good. I just went back to the front of the net and I got a really good bounce.”
Brent Burns scored two power-play goals for the Wild, who won their third in a row, and Mikko Koivu added two assists.
Jose Theodore, getting a rare start in place of Niklas Backstrom, made it stand up with 35 saves.
“We played a bookend game,” said coach Todd Richards, whose team survived being outshot 16-3 in the second period. “We played a really good first period and a really good third period. In between we made some mistakes. But that’s where Theo was great.”
Burns had just three goals in 47 games a year ago, but already has five in just 13 this year.
“I’d like to say a blind squirrel gets the nut every once in a while,” he joked. “It was great plays by Cullie (Matt Cullen) and Mikko. I’m just shooting the puck; I don’t think I’m doing anything different. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they hit a shin pad—usually they do that. I’m just trying to work on getting shots through.”
Rick Nash and Kyle Wilson had the Columbus goals. Mathieu Garon, who had shutouts in the last two games, suffered his first home loss ever for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets, off to the best start in franchise history at 8-4-0, had won seven of nine overall, and three straight at home.
Garon, who had won by 3-0 scores in his last two starts, came in 8-0-4 in home games with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in 15 games over two seasons in Columbus. He was also 7-3-1 in his career against Minnesota.
“I didn’t have a problem with our effort, but our execution was off,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “The first 10 minutes of the first period our passing was ugly. Those that did get passes, they were bouncing off our sticks. We certainly created enough chances. It was all about finding that (third) goal before they got it.”
The Wild ended Garon’s shutout streak at 142 minutes and 43 seconds. Cullen carried the puck across the blue line near the right point, then scissored toward the left circle while sliding a no-look pass to Burns on the right wing. Burns faked a forehand and then lifted a backhander past Garon.
As teammate Nikita Filatov was coming out of the box after serving a minor for holding, Nash scored off a seeing-eye set-up from Derick Brassard. Brassard, positioned near the boards on the right wing, took a drop pass from Rostislav Klesla and saucered a pass that went between the skates of defenceman Nick Schultz at the left doorstep, with Nash jamming it in for his fifth of the year.
The assist extended Brassard’s career-best points streak to seven games, during which he has five goals and three assists.
Wilson put Columbus up 2-1 in the second period, taking the puck away from defenceman Cam Barker, splitting two defenders and scoring on a wrist shot.
The Wild didn’t have a shot on goal as they began a power play with 5:50 left in the second period, but 10 seconds later they had a goal. Burns’ one-timer from Koivu through traffic knotted the score again.
“Probably our best period was the third period,” Theodore said. “It showed that we’re really maturing and playing with lots of confidence right now.”
NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets activated C Andrew Murray, who had missed the first 12 games with a sprained knee. … The Wild opened a four-game road trip after playing the last five at home. … Schultz left the ice after he blocked a shot with his stick, the puck hitting him in the face. … The Wild were 2-for-4 on the power play; Columbus was 0 for 4.