|Blue Jackets continue to impress, beat Sabres 3-0|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 October 2007 01:36|
Columbus, which hasn't finished above 11th place in the Western Conference since joining the NHL in 2000, is off to its best start. And after another impressive win, the Blue Jackets are believing they can contend this season.
At Buffalo, Pascal Leclaire made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season and fourth overall, and Rick Nash had a goal and an assist to help the Blue Jackets beat the Sabres 3-0 on Friday night.
With seven points in six games, the Blue Jackets (3-2-1) are feeling confident.
``We're a team that wants to win, and we're not going to settle for mediocrity,'' said Michael Peca, who added a goal and an assist while playing on a line with Nash and Nikolai Zherdev for the second straight game. ``We're not going to settle for complacency. We're no longer the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. We want to be a force in our conference.''
In other NHL games Friday night, it was: Pittsburgh 4, Carolina 3, in a shootout; Chicago 5, Colorado 3 and Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 2.
Nash scored in the second period, 62 seconds after he was denied by goalie Ryan Miller on the NHL's first penalty shot of the season.
Leclaire was able to bounce back from a 5-1 loss at Colorado on Saturday, and will try to extend a 150:22 home shutout streak that goes back to last season if he plays on Sunday against Vancouver.
``We've been solid since the beginning of the season,'' he said. ``It's always a team effort in a game like this.''
Nash, meanwhile, recorded his second straight two-point game, and was determined to vindicate himself after his failed penalty shot.
Nash was awarded it with nearly 8 minutes left in the second period. After accepting a pass at the middle of the Buffalo blueline, he got a step on Henrik Tallinder before the defenseman hooked and impeded Nash's short breakaway attempt.
Nash tried to beat Miller with a wrist shot on the stick side, but the goalie stopped the drive with his blocker.
``It's a 1-on-1 play, so when I miss I feel like I've let down the guys,'' Nash said.
Undaunted, Nash scored his fourth of the season with 6:50 left in the second on the power play. From behind the goal line, the big forward skated with the puck to the inner edge of the right circle before sending a wrist shot into the net Miller's stick side.
Zherdev scored an empty-net goal to cap the scoring for the Blue Jackets, who got their first road victory in three tries.
Buffalo, last season's highest-scoring team, was shut out for the first time since April 2006 - a span of 95 regular-season games - and had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Sabres finished their four-game homestand 3-1.
Miller made 26 saves.
``They made it tough for us,'' he said. ``We didn't get our offense going the way we wanted to at all.''
Penguins 4, Hurricanes 3, SO
At Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby had the winning shootout goal and the Penguins defeated Carolina.
Justin Williams had a goal and an assist and Rod Brind'Amour two assists for the Hurricanes, who had won three in a row and were playing the fifth game of a six-game road trip. Whitney and Trevor Letowski also scored for Carolina.
Petr Sykora had two goals in regulation and Crosby had two assists for Pittsburgh, which was in a shootout for the first time this season. Adam Hall also scored for the Penguins.
Blackhawks 5, Avalanche 3
At Chicago, Tuomo Ruutu tipped in Magnus Johansson's shot from the point with 1:25 left in the third period to snap a tie, and the Blackhawks rebounded after giving up a three-goal lead to beat Colorado.
Chicago rookie Patrick Kane scored his first NHL goal and added two assists, including one on Ruutu's winner, and Blackhawks rookie Jonathan Toews scored his second NHL goal. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 37 shots.
Colorado's Ryan Smyth scored on a tip-in on a power-play with 12:25 left in the third to tie it at 3. Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos also scored for the Avalanche, who got 22 saves from Jose Theodore.
Kings 4, Canucks 2
At Vancouver, British Columbia, Mike Cammalleri scored his NHL-leading eighth goal as part of a three-goal outburst in the second period and Los Angeles beat Vancouver.
Jack Johnson scored his first NHL goal and Alexander Frolov also scored during a 7-minute stretch, and Dustin Brown was credited with an empty-net goal as the Kings won for the second time in three games after losing five straight.
Mattias Ohlund scored with 5:47 left to make it close, and Roberto Luongo made 12 saves for the Canucks, who have lost four of five at home.