Fredrik Modin scored twice in the second period to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Tuesday night.
The Central Division teams entered the contest with 63 points. Philadelphia and Phoenix are the only NHL teams with fewer points.
“It’s fun to score some goals,” said Modin, who now has 19 on the season. “I thought our line played well. We held on to the puck and created some chances down low. David (Vyborny) and Alex (Svitov) made some great passes for the goals. It was a good night for us.”
Gilbert Brule added a goal and an assist for Columbus, which had lost four of its last five. Derrick Walser and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen scored their first goals of the season. Vyborny had the first assist on each of Modin’s goals.
Rene Bourque and Patrick Sharp found the net for Chicago, which was officially eliminated from postseason contention with the loss. The Blackhawks have lost three of their last four games. Cameron Barker assisted on both scores.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “We need consistent play from everybody, starting with your best players all the way down.”
Tied 1-1 entering the second period, the Blue Jackets dominated the middle frame with precision passing between Vyborny and Modin, who scored his goals 5:13 apart.
Moments after goalie Fredrik Norrena stopped Tony Salmelainen on a breakaway, Vyborny fed Modin a slick backhand pass across the crease. Modin skated past Dustin Byfuglien, who was recalled for the game, for the tap in at 5:13.
“He’s (Vyborny) a smart player,” said Modin, who has 10 points in his last 12 games. “It just feels that it’s easy to read off him, what he was trying to do. I was trying to get open. He’s that kind of player that can get you the puck. I have fun playing with him.”
Later skating 4-on-4, Vyborny and Modin made three passes between them with the last one a give-and-go around Danny Richmond. Modin skated in from the right wing and roofed a shot over Nikolai Khabibulin at 10:26 to make it 3-1.
Sergei Fedorov, starting his fourth straight game on defence, started the play from near the Columbus net and picked up an assist.
“He’s (Modin) a guy you take for granted,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “You don’t worry about whether he’s going to show up and play the right way. You know he will.”
Walser, reacquired from Carolina in the off-season, scored his first goal since Dec. 13, 2003 at 18:08 on a Blue Jackets power play to make it 4-1.
“The guys played great,” said Walser, recalled for the game because four Columbus defencemen are out with injuries. “I thought they moved the puck, they backchecked.”
Notes: The lights went out in Nationwide Arena for a few seconds late in the first period. Play resumed about 20 seconds later with a faceoff. … Modin, acquired in an off-season trade from Tampa Bay, registered his first multi-goal game as a Blue Jackets player. … Chicago has allowed 11 power-play goals in seven games against Columbus. The Hawks are worst in the league at penalty killing.