Saad's 1st career hat trick helps Columbus beat Carolina 5-1
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Brandon Saad and the Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves on the better side of a blowout for a change.
Saad scored three goals for his first career hat trick, and Columbus routed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Saturday night.
Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored, and Alexander Wennberg and David Savard had two assists apiece.
The last-place Blue Jackets scored three goals in the second period and snapped a four-game losing streak. Two of those losses came by at least three goals.
''It seems more or less the past few nights, it's been happening against us,'' Saad said. ''So to get one of these nights and get confidence and get a couple guys scoring different goals and making big plays, it was a lot of fun to be a part of.''
Jeff Skinner scored and Eddie Lack made 22 saves for the Hurricanes, who were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. They had kept their long-shot postseason bid alive by earning points in 12 of their previous 14 games.
''We always believed in ourselves, and we kept it alive for a long time here,'' Lack said. ''Even after the trading deadline, when we lost three of our best players, I felt like we had a lot of young guys coming in in the second half and ... we were alive for a long time.''
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots to help the Blue Jackets avoid a season sweep.
Saad scored Columbus' first three goals during his natural hat trick that helped the Blue Jackets take a two-goal lead.
He tied it at 1 with 5:43 left in the first after a giveaway by Jay McClement at the blue line gave him a breakaway, and he beat Lack high.
The second goal came with 13:24 left in the second, one-timing a pretty behind-the-net backhand feed from rookie Sonny Milano past Lack for his 27th goal.
''We made a couple plays and chances were coming'' in a loss to the New York Islanders two nights earlier, Saad said. ''As a line, we made more plays, there was more space and we just capitalized on our chances.''
Saad then finished off the hat trick on a 4-on-4 with 1:17 left in the second, parking in front of the blue paint and chipping in a short pass from Wennberg to make it 3-1 and prompt some Blue Jackets fans to toss a handful of hats onto the ice.
Jenner all but ended it in the final split-second of the period. With time ticking away, he took a quick feed from Cam Atkinson off a rebound and beat the buzzer to make it a three-goal game.
''That kind of takes the air out of us,'' Lack said.
That scoring flurry came after Skinner put the Hurricanes up 1-0 with 11:07 left in the first. He made a slick move to elude defenseman Cody Goloubef, then beat Korpisalo with a wrist shot for his team-best 28th goal and his sixth point in six games.
''It got away from us, for sure,'' coach Bill Peters said. ''They took advantage of some turnovers (in the second period), and then we never got going again.''
NOTES: Lack allowed five goals for the third time this season. ... Carolina matched a season low for shots in a period with two in the second. ... Milano, playing in his second career game, earned his first point. ... The Blue Jackets assigned D Justin Falk to Lake Erie of the AHL before the game.
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