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Zherdev returns from Russia to lead Blue Jackets past Coyotes

Oct 10, 2006 - 1:59 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- The Columbus Blue Jackets are glad Nikolai Zherdev resolved his visa issues.

Zherdev scored two goals and Rick Nash added a tally and two assists to lead the Blue Jackets to a 5-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring just 1:01 into the first period on Zherdev's first goal of the season. The 21-year-old missed the Blue Jackets' first two games as he ironed out visa problems in his native Russia.

After Nash netted a power-play goal midway through the second period, Zherdev tallied again just 1:40 later to give Columbus a 3-1 edge.

"Team win, it was nice to score two goals my first game back, but it was more important the team won today," Zherdev said.

"That is the type of player he is," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "He is an opportunist and he made some great plays. It's big for the kid to come back and play a game with his new teammates and to get two goals his first game back is huge."

Anson Carter made it 4-1 early in the third period, netting his first goal as a member of the Blue Jackets.

"It was nice to get that first one out of the way," Carter said. "When you are a scorer, you want to score some goals. It was nice, especially coming in a victory. Anytime you can contribute to a victory, it's nice."

Blue-liner Duvie Westcott capped the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the final session. Along with Nash and David Vyborny, Westcott has at least one point in each of Columbus' first three games.

Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire stopped 23 shots to earn his second straight win.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski scored the lone goal for the Coyotes, who committed 14 penalties, including six separate minors in the second period that led to three power-play goals.

"They played a nice game tonight," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "They are a much better team than they were last year. The penalties that we took were uncalled for; just a lack of effort and being selfish. You are not going to be successful at this level against a team playing well and playing at home.

"Two of the goals they scored were the result of too many men on the ice, that ended up in 5-on-3's. That's just really bad hockey. It's uncalled for. You aren't going to win at this level doing that."

Mike Morrison made 24 saves for Phoenix.

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