COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger each had a goal and an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 after blowing a three-goal lead in a pre-season game Friday night.
Kris Russell scored the go-ahead goal with 9:18 remaining, and Craig MacDonald and Manny Malhotra also scored for Columbus (3-4). Rick Nash added three assists for the Blue Jackets.
“There’s a pretty good feeling around the dressing room,” Russell said. “We have a lot of good players and a lot of depth.”
Marian Gaborik registered a goal and an assist, and Owen Nolan and James Sheppard all scored for the Wild (4-2) in a 2:14 span to tie it three-all after two periods.
“That’s what happens when you don’t skate in this game, you get behind,” said Minnesota defenceman Kim Johnsson, who had an assist on Nolan’s goal. “After we got the first goal we started skating more.”
Nolan redirected Martin Skoula’s point shot to put Minnesota on the board with a power-play tally at 14:10 of the second.
An ill-advised cross-ice pass by Nash in his own zone helped the Wild pull to 3-2 just under a minute later.
Pascal Leclaire, who finished with 12 saves in two periods of action, had just stopped Gaboriak’s breakaway chance with an acrobatic toe-save, but Nash sent the puck into the low slot right to Gaborik, who immediately snapped it by Leclaire.
Moments later, Leclaire made another quick save, this time with his glove on Gaborik from close range. But neither Leclaire or defenceman Aaron Rome cleared the puck and Sheppard nudged it home to tie it with a power-play goal at 16:24.
“We really got risky with the puck and it hurt us,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
MacDonald jumped on a rebound off goalie Niklas Backstrom, who stopped 36 shots, and scored into an open net at 2:49 of the first period to start the scoring.
Umberger made it 2-0 at 18:54 on the power play, tapping home a Nash feed from the right corner.
Midway through the second period, on a delayed penalty call, Huselius grabbed a rebound in the low slot, and stick-handled around Backstrom before tucking the puck behind him to give the Blue Jackets a 3-0 lead.
“I think we all feel pretty good,” Huselius said. “We know we have to keep getting better, but so far, so good.”
The Wild pulled Backstrom and Malhotra scored into an empty net with :55 remaining to make it 5-3.