COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blue Jackets are slowly starting to realize they might win more games playing a combative, in-your-face style of hockey.
Hopefully it’s not too late.
Rick Nash, rookie Ryan Johansen and Fedor Tyutin each scored for the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night, only their second win of the season.
Columbus (2-9-1) was aggressive against Anaheim’s stars all game, leading to four fights, including one with Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf. The effort resembled the Blue Jackets’ first win, Tuesday against Detroit, which was also at home.
“When we play with a little bit of any edge, when we play like we’re pissed off, when we play in the hard areas and go there first … that’s usually when better things happen for us,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said.
James Wisniewski, who has four points in four games with Columbus, added two assists.
Steve Mason turned-aside 18 shots, including three huge saves with the Ducks (5-5-1) on the power play and pressing for the tying goal in the second period.
“That’s what’s needed, timely saves,” Mason said. “From a personal standpoint, from my game as a whole, that was the key to it right there was to make those saves on the penalty kill. Especially since we had just gone up.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wants his players to simplify their games to shake the current funk.
“We seem to be over-passing and putting the puck in a different area,” he said of his team, which has lost five of six. “Where it’s less of an angle or less of an opportunity to score.”
Shooter Bobby Ryan found the net with a laser shot and backup goalie Dan Ellis made 18 saves for Anaheim. The Ducks are 1-2-1 on their 13-day, seven-game road trip.
Just 1:31 into the game, the Blue Jackets were given a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes thanks to a high stick by Teemu Selanne and a boarding penalty on Saku Koivu on the same play.
Circling with the puck around the right circle, Nash waited for R.J. Umberger to screen Ellis, then he pulled up and snapped a shot from the dot for his fourth of the season at 2:23.
“We’ve got to come up with an identity and I don’t think our identity is a skilled team that’s going to win with finesse and talent,” the captain Nash said.
Anaheim got on the board six minutes later with an end-to-end, 2-on-1 rush. Selanne cut through centre ice, stretched it wide before sliding a puck past Kris Russell to Ryan, who fired a shot top shelf for his fourth.
The game then turned chippy with three fights in five minutes.
Columbus also struck early in the second period on Johansen’s second goal of the season at 1:57. Countering after a Ducks turnover at the attacking blue line, Johansen, on a superb individual effort, stepped around Lubomoir Visnovsky at centre ice, collected his balance and burst in on Ellis, scoring near post on his backhand.
“I’ve been clawing away at every opportunity I get,” Johansen said.
With Anaheim on its second man advantage of the period, Mason made three lead-preserving saves. He kicked aside two quick shots from Corey Perry and then smothered a point-blank shot on the next sequence by Koivu streaking alone down the slot.
Tyutin extended the lead to two for the Blue Jackets with a point shot through traffic for his second at 12:52.
In the third period, the Blue Jackets weathered a steady Anaheim attack and pushed back midway through with a perfect penalty kill.
“Our game plan wasn’t to go out and take them on in the back alley,” Arniel said. “It was to go out and be physical against their skill. I thought we did a great job of finishing our checks.”
NOTES: It was the fourth straight game Columbus has faced a backup goalie. … Ellis made his second start of the season and dropped to 5-1-1 all-time against the Blue Jackets. … Columbus plays four of their next five at home. … The Blue Jackets are 2-3-1 at home and 0-6-0 on the road. … The Ducks, who finished 0 for 3 on the power play, are 1-5-1 in one-goal games.