Staal scores twice as Carolina beats Columbus 3-1
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Jordan Staal got himself into the right place at the right time on Friday night.
Staal had two goals, Cam Ward made 25 saves and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 for their second straight victory.
Right after Ward smothered a breakaway for Cam Atkinson, Staal snapped a 1-1 tie 8:54 into the third period when he lifted the puck over Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot. Teuvo Teravainen dished it off to Staal for his second assist of the game.
"The less I think the better, so I was just trying to get it off as quick as I could, and I was fortunate enough that it kind of jumped off my stick the right way," Staal said.
Brock McGinn added an empty-net goal with 25 seconds left.
Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus (9-7-1), and Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots in the Blue Jackets' fourth straight loss. Columbus' NHL-worst power play struggled again, with no goals in two chances.
Dubinsky put Columbus in front in the first period. Tyler Motte grabbed a loose rebound in the defensive zone and fired a long pass that Dubinsky carried in and stuffed past Ward with a backhand. It was Dubinsky's second goal of the season, giving him four points in the last four games.
Staal tied it with his fifth of the season 3:50 into the second period, thanks to some sloppy puck-handling by Columbus that allowed Carolina to keep it in the zone. Staal was waiting at the doorstep to tip in a pass from Noah Hanifin, who had faked a slap shot and drew Bobrovsky out of position.
"We played with speed tonight," Staal said. "We were skating, but moving the puck better, too. Our execution has been slowly improving, and it's a continuing process we have to do day in and day out if we want to win games."
The consecutive wins for Carolina (6-5-3) come on the heels of a four-game slide, two of them in overtime.
"We've played a lot of tight games," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We're not getting much offensively. We've got to work on that. I think it's going to come."
Meanwhile, Columbus has been struggling to put together a complete game, playing poorly in the first period and squandering some chances late.
"We have four or five really good opportunities in that third period, the right people with the puck on their sticks and we don't get it done," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "So no matter how bad we were (early), we still had a chance to win it, and we don't find a way in the third."
NOTES: Ward replaced Scott Darling on the first night of a back-to-back. Darling will face the Blackhawks, his old team, on Saturday night. ... Carolina D Brett Pesce was back in the lineup after missing three games due to a concussion. ... Columbus C Zac Dalpe missed his second game with an upper-body injury. ... Hanifin has four assists in the past three games. ... C Patrick Brown, F Lee Stempniak and D Klas Dahlbeck were scratches for Carolina. ... In addition to Dalpe, Columbus scratched D Scott Harrington and D Gabriel Carlsson.
Hurricanes: Host Chicago on Saturday.
Blue Jackets: Visit Detroit on Saturday.