Jordan Staal scores in OT, Hurricanes beat Blue Jackets 4-3
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Jordan Staal closed his eyes and helped the Carolina Hurricanes avoid a tough collapse.
Staal scored in overtime and the Hurricanes recovered after blowing a three-goal lead to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Saturday night.
Creeping in on a 2-on-1, Staal let a shot go from the right hash mark that sneaked under the arm of goalie Joonas Korpisalo for his 10th of the season.
''I kind of was just looking to see if I had a guy jumping up so I could have time,'' said Staal, who has goals in three straight games. ''Slavo (Jaccob Slavin) did a great job of getting his feet going and opening up space. From there I more or less closed my eyes.''
Andrej Nestrasil, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles also scored and Staal added an assist to get Carolina to the .500 mark for the first time this season at 18-18-7. Cam Ward made 21 saves and the Hurricanes swept the home-and-home series after beating Columbus 4-1 on Friday night. Carolina is 5-0-1 in its last six games against the Blue Jackets, including four straight wins in Columbus.
Liles' goal put Carolina up 3-0 7:32 into the second period, but then Columbus clawed back. Brandon Dubinsky nearly won it for the Blue Jackets 53 seconds into overtime, but his close-range shot hit off Ward's mask and landed on top of the net.
''We kept fighting and found a way to get a point,'' Dubinsky said. ''Obviously we needed two. You can't spot a team like that three goals. I'm proud of the way we fought back to at least get to overtime.''
Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson scored for Columbus to erase the three-goal deficit, and defenseman Seth Jones made his first home appearance. The Blue Jackets have lost both games since they acquired Jones from Nashville on Wednesday for center Ryan Johansen. Korpisalo made 26 saves.
''I appreciate the way they hung in there, battled back and found a way to get a point,'' Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said.
The speedy Atkinson scored late in the second period, stealing the puck from Justin Faulk and deking Ward on a short-handed breakaway for his 13th with 4:32 left.
It swung the momentum in Columbus' direction.
''They started to believe a little bit and got a little energy off of it and fed off of it,'' Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. ''We let them hang around and they made it hard on us. They were very good the second half of the game.''
In the third period, on a Columbus rush, the puck was swiped off the stick off Brandon Saad. It slid between a charging Wennberg and Ward, who left his crease. Wennberg won the race, putting the puck past the diving goalie before tucking it inside the near post at 4:23.
Then Columbus got a charge from two rookies recently recalled to plug holes opened because of injury and Johansen's trade. Anderson tied it at 11:45, powering home a pass from Kerby Rychel for his first career goal in his 11th game.
''I saw a lot of good things from the kids,'' Tortorella said. ''Quite honestly, I hope the kids take other peoples' jobs. That's how you become better as a team, when there's a push from the youth.''
Nestrasil scored on a one-timer 10:09 into the game off a cross-ice saucer pass from Elias Lindholm.
Early in the second period, Carolina found some room up the ice. Eric Staal sent a pass to the middle that caromed off Dubinsky's skate to Versteeg, and his shot slid in between Korpisalo's legs at 1:27.
Later, after a Hurricanes faceoff win, Liles pinched down low to get a loose puck in traffic, jamming it under Korpisalo.
NOTES: Columbus was without captain and LW Nick Foligno, who absorbed a blind-side hit from Hurricanes C Brad Malone on Friday night. Foligno was placed on injured reserve on Saturday. Blue Jackets RW Jared Boll and Malone fought 2:15 into the game. ... Hurricanes C Victor Rask - tied for second on the team with 26 points - was scratched with an upper-body injury. ... Carolina has scored on the power play in consecutive games after an 0 for 14 skid spanning the previous eight games. ... The Blue Jackets' top-two goalies Sergei Bobrovsky (groin) and Curtis McElhinney (ankle) remain out. ... The Hurricanes snapped a three-game road losing streak.