What coach Ken Hitchcock said must have left an impression. David Vyborny scored twice – including one 4:38 into overtime – to rally the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
The Blue Jackets trailed 2-1 but earned their fifth victory after being down through two periods.
“We had a discussion after the second period about who had to step up – and the right people stepped up,” said Hitchcock, 22-20-5 since taking over a team that was 5-13-2. “It’s your best players who have to step up and win.
“Our best players came on in the third period when we needed them.”
Vyborny’s 15th goal tied it 2-2 at 5:02 of the third period when he had an open net in front of him after two Kings and Columbus’ Gilbert Brule bowled over goalie Mathieu Garon.
“It was an easy night for me,” Vyborny said with a grin.
In overtime, the Blue Jackets were on the power play when Ron Hainsey skated to the top of the left circle and passed across the ice to Vyborny on the right wing. Vyborny’s quick snapper beat Garon inside the near post.
“Hainsey made a very nice pass to me. I just tried to wait a little bit,” Vyborny said.
Garon thought Hainsey was going to take the shot.
“They had time to set up four on three,” he said. “I was expecting a shot from Hainsey at the point and he passed. So it caught me by surprise.”
Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford wasn’t happy that Alexander Frolov took a penalty while the Kings had a man advantage.
“Frolov has to be smarter than that,” Crawford said. “I’m not going to bench him or anything like that.
“He’s one of our best players, if not our best player, but those are hopefully the type of lessons we learn. You want to make intelligent decisions in overtime: don’t slash a guy’s stick on a 4-on-3.”
The victory was the Blue Jackets’ third in a row. The Kings dropped their third straight.
Geoff Platt scored his first NHL goal and added an assist, giving him four points in two games. Vyborny assisted on Platt’s goal.
Kevin Dallman scored his first goal in almost a year for the Kings, and Jamie Heward added a power-play goal.
Fredrik Norrena had 27 saves to run his season record to 18-15-3 in his quest to become the first Columbus goalie to finish a season with a winning record.
Platt, coming off a strong game Saturday in Phoenix in which he had four shots and two assists, didn’t have a good view of his goal.
Rick Nash came down the right wing and traded passes with Vyborny in the middle. Nash sent a centring pass to Platt, who was upended and flew through the air as he tipped the pass into the net.
“I’m happy that I at least got one now,” Platt said. “It was just a hardworking goal more than anything. It wasn’t pretty by any means. The red light going off, it was a great feeling.”
The Kings came back with two goals in the second period.
Dallman scored his first goal in 51 games when his wrist shot from the left wing slipped by Norrena. Dallman hadn’t scored since April 8, 2006.
Just 10 seconds after Platt went to the penalty box for hooking, the Kings took the lead. Michael Cammalleri skated toward the net along the goal line and slipped a pass under the stick of Hainsey for a one-timer by Heward for his fifth of the season.
“Vyborny is just one of those guys who is going to make the right play 90 per cent of the time,” Hitchcock said. “He’s one of the most accountable players in the league.”
Notes: Nash set a career high with his 24th assist. … Before the game, Columbus general manager Doug MacLean said G Pascal Leclaire (knee), D Duvie Westcott (concussion), D Bryan Berard (back) and F Dan Fritsche (lacerated wrist) won’t play the rest of the season. … Los Angeles C Anze Kopitar missed his third game because of a strained muscle in his upper body.