COLUMBUS, Ohio – Raffi Torres broke a tie with a power-play goal late in the second period and Rick Nash added a short-handed goal on Saturday night to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to their third win in a row, a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
Jason Chimera had a goal and Jake Voracek added an empty-netter for Columbus (5-1-0), off to its best start in the franchise’s nine years.
Steve Mason gave up a soft goal early to Dustin Brown but was brilliant in the third period as the Kings pressed. The Blue Jackets killed five penalties and have given up one goal on 24 kills this year.
The Blue Jackets have scored more goals (two) when a man down than their NHL-leading penalty kill unit has given up (one).
Last on the power play in the league last season, they have scored with the man advantage in five of their seven games this season.
The Kings have lost three in a row – all on the road.
Torres broke a 1-1 tie on the power play with three minutes left in the second period. His backhand slipped between the leg pads of goaltender Jonathan Quick after the Blue Jackets had buzzed the net in a scrum that saw three other Columbus players get their sticks on the puck.
Since trading for Torres before last season, he has been the Blue Jackets’ good-luck charm. They are 13-1-0 in games in which he has scored – the only loss coming at San Jose last week to end a 12-game streak.
Nash added a short-hand goal early in the third period, backhanding in a shot between the circles after Sammy Pahlsson had chipped the puck away from a King on a hustle play in the defensive zone. It was the first point in a Columbus uniform for Pahlsson, a shutdown defensive forward who was signed as a free agent last summer.
Mason finished with 27 saves.
Quick prevented another short-handed goal five minutes in. Nash slashed from right to left across the crease and slid the puck at an empty net, but Quick recovered in time to use his right skate to kick the puck just wide of the net.
Quick also survived a big mistake midway through the first period. He mishandled the puck and almost handed it to Chimera, but Chimera wasn’t able to get off a shot until Quick got help from his fast-arriving teammates.
Seconds later, the Kings broke through on a relatively harmless shot from the high slot, with Brown wiring one that eluded Mason – just as Brown was knocked to the ice.
In the final minute of the period, Chimera came down the left wing on a 2-on-2 with Nash. As he got to the left dot, Chimera’s hard shot beat Quick to tie the score.
Notes: The Blue Jackets announced just before the start that they had signed D Kris Russell to a three-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season. … Those living with cancer, cancer survivors and caregivers were acknowledged as part of Hockey Fights Cancer. … Nash pushed his points streak to five games and Derick Brassard had an assist for points in the past three games. … Voracek scored an empty-netter on the power play.