Rick Nash and Dan Fritsche each scored twice and the Blue Jackets set a franchise record with five power-play goals to beat the Ottawa Senators 6-2 on Sunday night.
“We’re playing with a lot of energy and taking it to teams,” said defenceman Ron Hainsey, who had a goal and two assists for his first career three-point game in his 115th NHL contest.
It was the Blue Jackets’ fourth straight win, improving coach Ken Hitchcock’s record to 5-3-0 after taking over the team that was 5-13-2.
“Everyone’s buying into the system Coach Hitchcock has put in,” Fritsche said. “It makes it so much easier.”
Nash said the Blue Jackets’ confidence is growing.
“It’s that snowball effect, especially if we continue to buy into Coach Hitchcock’s system,” he said.
Columbus ended up 5-of-11 on the power play.
“Our power play’s had good rotation now for almost two weeks,” said Hitchcock, who was hired on Nov. 22. “We’re moving the puck well and we’ve got people in position and we’ve got bodies working to go to the net. We’re getting a lot of garbage goals on the power play and we’re getting a lot of chances.”
Ottawa, which lost its third in a row, had not given up more than two power-play goals in a game this season. The five goals with a man advantage for Columbus tied the Senators’ franchise record for an opponent.
“They scored when they got the chances,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. “To be honest and fair, they played a very good hockey game.”
David Vyborny and Anders Eriksson each added two assists for the Blue Jackets, who had their most goals this season. Manny Malhotra also scored his first goal in 23 games.
“I can’t even explain how great it feels to win, and to put wins together,” Fritsche said. “Streaks can stay alive because we don’t want to lose.”
Goaltender Pascal Leclaire had a stellar outing with 19 saves before leaving with a 5-0 lead late in the second period. On an Ottawa rush, he stretched to kick aside a shot and was unable to get back up.
He stopped Peter Schaefer on two breakaways and turned him away on a second-period penalty shot.
Christoph Schubert and Mike Fisher picked up the Senators’ goals, both in the third period.
Ottawa’s Martin Gerber gave up four goals on 13 shots before being pulled in favor of Ray Emery midway through the second period.
Fredrik Norrena, coming off a franchise-record 166 minutes, 6 seconds without giving up a goal in the three-game winning streak, came in when Leclaire was injured. He gave up two goals on 16 shots.
While the Blue Jackets had been playing well, Nash remained mired in a goal drought. He had not scored in his last six games and had just one in his previous nine.
His first goal was a fluke when a puck took an odd carom off the back dasher and ended up right on his stick in front of an open net. He scored again later in the period when Hainsey flicked a shot from the left point that deflected off at least one player and bounced through the slot. Nash stopped it, and swiveled, backhanding it past Gerber for his ninth of the year.
“Goals come in batches,” he said. “Hopefully now they’ll start going in.”
After Fritsche scored to make it 3-0, Ottawa defenceman Andrej Meszaros was called for a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. The Blue Jackets added two goals while on that power play, Hainsey picking up his third on a shot from the right point and Fritsche tapping in a rebound off a blast by Eriksson to beat Emery.
Notes: Columbus captain Adam Foote suffered a lower body injury in the opening period and did not return. RW Anson Carter collided with a teammate and was helped off the ice. … Ottawa was without two of its biggest stars, D Wade Redden who missed his fifth game with a chest/shoulder injury, and RW Daniel Alfredsson missed his third with a hip injury. … Ottawa C Jason Spezza’s streak of four games with a goal ended but he extended his points streak to nine games.