R.J. Umberger, strong power-play unit leads Blue Jackets past Senators 4-1

OTTAWA – Columbus called it Blue Jackets hockey, but the Ottawa Senators called it ugly.

Ryan Johansen, R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin each had a power-play goal to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory over Ottawa on Sunday.

Columbus head coach Todd Richards said after the game his team had put forth a “60-minute effort.”

“When we’re playing our best hockey that’s exactly how we’re playing,” Richards said.

On the other side of the ice, Senators coach Paul MacLean had no explanation for his team’s inconsistencies. MacLean is struggling to understand how his team can play so well one night and so poorly the next.

“At some point and time when you hit 30 (games) you are what you are and if this is what we are as an inconsistent group it’s not going to be much fun,” said MacLean.

Umberger’s second period power-play goal was the eventual winner.

Derek MacKenzie had the Blue Jackets’ (7-10-3) only even-strength goal of the game while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots for the win.

Bobrovsky wasn’t overly busy, but when he was needed he made the big save.

“When your goalie’s making big saves you want to work for him at the other end and get some goals,” said Johansen. “Everybody was really good (Sunday).”

Erik Karlsson scored the lone goal for the Senators (8-8-4) in the third period. Craig Anderson made 18 saves.

Coming off a 4-2 comeback win against Boston on Friday, the Senators had no explanation for why they came out so poorly Sunday. But they say they know things need to improve quickly.

“We can’t keep battling back every game because it’s not going to work,” said Karlsson. “We’re 20 games in and it seems like there’s a lot of games left to be played, but if we don’t start showing up soon it’s going to be over quick.”

Trailing 3-0 to start the third, things got even worse for the Senators as MacKenzie made it 4-0 at the five-minute mark of the third.

An otherwise ugly game got even uglier after Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki caught Jared Boll with his head down. James Wisniewski quickly came to his teammate’s defence and fought Borowiecki. The two were tossed from the game once the penalties were sorted out.

“I was just trying to finish a check,” said Borowiecki. “I would never want to hurt someone or put someone in jeopardy physically or anything like that. I was just trying to make a hard play and what happened, happened.”

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The Senators broke Bobrovsky’s shutout bid at 17:33 of the third when Ottawa made the most of a two-man advantage on Karlsson’s seventh game of the season.

The small crowd of 15,535 on hand for the matinee was quiet to begin with and it grew even quieter after the Blue Jackets took a 3-0 lead scoring twice in the second period.

Columbus made it 2-0 at the four-minute mark of the second as Johansen took a shot from inside the blue-line and Umberger managed to get his stick on the rebound.

The Blue Jackets had a two-man advantage and adding to the Senators woes was the fact Chris Phillips’ stick broke seconds before Tyutin made it 3-0.

Special teams were clearly the difference in this one. Ottawa was 0-5 with the man advantage, scoring its only goal on a 5-on-3.

“Our power play was huge and our penalty kill was great,” said Nick Floigno, who played his first game against the Senators since being traded to Columbus in July 2012. “This was a big win for our team and gives us confidence.”

The Blue Jackets made it 1-0 at 4:50 as Johansen took a pass from Ryan Murray and then showed some great patience as he waited for a lane to clear before shooting.

This marked the 14th time this season that Ottawa gave up the first goal. The Senators have a 3-8-3 record when the opposition scores first.

MacLean said all aspects of the team’s preparations will be looked, including slow starts.

“We’ll examine all that stuff and we’ll see if we need to make changes, but we need to do something,” said MacLean. “At the end of the day, it comes down to the guys wearing the sweaters. They have to be ready to play.

“The ultimate responsibility comes to each individual to make sure you’re ready to play the game and do your job.”

Erik Condra returned to the lineup after missing the last six games with a leg injury.

Notes: D Patrick Wiercioch, D Joe Corvo and LW Matt Kassian were a healthy scratch for the Senators. RW Erik Condra missed his sixth straight game with a leg injury…RW Jack Skille and D Dalton Prout were a healthy scratch for the Blue Jackets.