COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets’ home-ice advantage has a name.
Mathieu Garon stopped 29 shots for his 17th career shutout, extending his strong play at home in leading Columbus to a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
A second-round pick by the Canadiens in the 1996 draft, Garon played three seasons for Montreal. He improved to 8-0-4 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in home games since joining Columbus as a free agent in 2009.
“I’ve been maybe a little lucky,” said the 32-year-old native of Chandler, Que. “When I’ve played, we haven’t played a bad game this season. It feels good. We have to win at home. If we want to be in the top eight teams (making the playoffs), we have to be dominant here at home.”
Garon has been dominant everywhere so far this season. Filling in for first-stringer Steve Mason, Garon is 3-0-0 with a 0.86 goals-against average, stopping 90 of the 93 shots he’s faced.
“Matty was outstanding and he deserves opportunities to play,” first-year coach Scott Arniel said. “He’s been good from training camp all the way through to tonight. I have a lot of confidence in both goaltenders. We have 1-A and 1-B.”
Garon had plenty of help. The Blue Jackets weren’t shy about stepping in front of the puck, blocking 24 shots to Montreal’s eight.
“We played really well in the first and second,” said Derick Brassard, who had a power-play goal. “And in the third Matty did everything by himself. He saved us a few times. He was the difference tonight.”
Rick Nash and Kyle Wilson also had goals and Jake Voracek added two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have won six of eight.
After getting blitzed in two home games, disappointing fans and holding down subsequent crowds, Columbus has forged a 4-3-0 record at Nationwide Arena.
“Each game we’re getting better and better,” Nash said. “We finally tonight had lots of chances. Power play, 5-on-5—hopefully it just keeps on getting better.”
The Canadiens, who had won four of five, were shut out for the second time this season.
“We’ve got some lines that are creating some opportunities and other lines are not,” coach Jacques Martin said. “We’ll look at the video and analyze and see what we can bring as far as a solution for the next game.”
The Blue Jackets cashed in on consecutive shots in the opening period.
Nash swooped in from the right wing on an odd-man rush. As he got to the faceoff dot, he aimed a wrister that slipped just over Carey Price’s blocker inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season.
As that goal was being announced, Montreal’s Benoit Pouliot was sent to the penalty box for boarding.
Voracek then skated with the puck across the blue line, splitting defencemen Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, and slid a pass through the crease from the left goal line. Brassard had an almost vacant net in front of him and jammed it in for his fourth of the season.
Brassard, a disappointment last season when he had just nine goals and 27 assists in 79 games, now has goals in four of his last five games.
“Our line in the first period, that’s the way we need to play all the time,” he said. “The team is expecting us to produce. That’s what we did in the first. That was a great job.”
Wilson added the backbreaker in the third, taking a 2-on-1 pass from Jared Boll.
A rookie signed as a free agent after playing two games last season with Washington, Wilson wasn’t expected to stick with the club out of camp but has scored three goals in his last six games.
“It’s a historic team,” Nash said of the Canadiens. “We played one of our best games of the season to beat them, so that’s very special.”
NOTES: During the first intermission, fans booed a weather forecast predicting the first snowfall of the season. … Montreal D Andrei Markov played his second game after returning from knee surgery. … The game matched one team (Montreal) that hasn’t given up four goals in a game and another (Columbus) that hasn’t scored four in a game. … Price made 21 saves.