for this game

Zherdev's second-period burst lifts Blue Jackets

Dec 30, 2007 - 5:04 AM
By Dave Holstein PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) - Nikolai Zherdev supplied Pascal Leclaire with all the offense he would need.

Zherdev scored two second-period goals and set up two others and Leclaire made 23 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, on Saturday night.

"That's the kind of hockey we need to play if we are going to win and keep ourselves in the mix for a playoff spot," Leclaire said. "We blocked a few shots and were disciplined too. We played solid again."

"We just kept going and the energy, we fed off of the fans," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Carolina puts so much pressure on you. You are going to make some mistakes. The thing about us was we recovered from our mistakes and kept going."

Defenseman Rostislav Klesla also tallied for the Blue Jackets, who are now 12-6-4 at home this season.

After a scoreless first period, Columbus started the scoring with an end-to-end rush by Zherdev just 2:06 into the second session.

Zherdev collected a loose puck in the Blue Jackets' zone, skated behind the net and burst down the center of the ice into the offensive zone. He fired a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat goaltender Cam Ward between his pads.

Columbus doubled its lead when Klesla scored a power-play goal at 6:45 of the second. Defenseman Ron Hainsey took a shot from the high slot that Klesla redirected past Ward high on the glove side. For Hainsey, it was his fourth assist in his last three games.

Zherdev then scored his second goal of the night and 15th of the season with 5:58 left in the middle session to give the Blue Jackets a 3-0 edge.

"The third goal meant the world to the team because that kind of gave us breathing room," Hitchcock said. "He is as good as anybody in the NHL with the puck. He makes plays very few players in the world make and he does it at top speed."

Rick Nash chipped the puck off the wall ahead to Zherdev in the neutral zone. Zherdev, who was behind defenseman Mike Commodore, skated in alone, faked a forehand and launched a backhand over Ward's glove.

"He's been playing great," Klesla said of Zherdev. "He is catching on how to really play and act. It's been a long way for him. We try to help him and if he gets goals like this, it is going to help him and help us."

"They throw it out and he gets behind me," Commodore said. "It was just a great play."

It was the seventh time in his NHL career that Zherdev had scored two goals in a game. His last multi-goal performance was March 14, 2007 against the Anaheim Ducks. He has yet to record a hat trick in his three-year NHL career.

Zherdev nearly notched that elusive third goal with less than two minutes remaining in the contest, but John Grahame made an impressive skate save. Then with 10 seconds left, Zherdev passed up an open net opportunity by passing it up to Kris Beech, who tapped it in to provide the final margin.

"I was hoping he would go for the hat trick," Beech said. "I was surprised myself. I think their 'D' man was trying to take away the shot."

"Those types of things endear you to your teammates," Hitchcock said. "It was a smart play because he was getting squeezed."

Nash, the club's leading scorer, returned to the lineup after missing the past two games due to throat inflammation. His assist in the second ended a seven-game pointless streak, the longest of his career.

"I thought Nash stepped up tonight," Hitchcock said. "It was good to have him back. Rick played much better he had a lot of energy in his game which was good to see."

Ward, who made 17 saves, was replaced by Grahame at the start of the third period. Grahame stopped just two shots in the final 20 minutes.

"Just everybody needed to be better," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said about his decision to pull Ward.

Eric Staal ended Leclaire's shutout bid at 2:50 of the final session with a power-play tally. Leclaire still has an NHL-best seven blankings on the campaign.

"It was three bad things in a row," Laviolette said. "The score on a break, on a power play and then someone beats us out of our own end. It's 3-0. They made the most of their chances. There weren't a lot of chances either way. It was dull."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 0 0 1 1
    COLUMBUS 0 3 1 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 14 (UNASSISTED) 2:06
    COB - (PP) ROSTISLAV KLESLA 4 (RON HAINSEY, NIKOLAI ZHERDEV)
    6:45
    COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 15 (RICK NASH) 14:02
    3RD PRD: CAR - (PP) ERIC STAAL 20 (RAY WHITNEY) 2:5

    Dec 29 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 1
    COLUMBUS 4
    3RD PRD: COB - (EN) KRIS BEECH 5 (NIKOLAI ZHERDEV) 19:50

    Hurricanes vs. Blue JacketsDec 29 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 1
    COLUMBUS 3
    3RD PRD: CAR - (PP) ERIC STAAL 20 (RAY WHITNEY) 2:50

    Hurricanes vs. Blue JacketsDec 29 9:00 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 0 0 0
    COLUMBUS 0 3 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 14 (UNASSISTED) 2:06
    COB - (PP) ROSTISLAV KLESLA 4 (RON HAINSEY, NIKOLAI ZHERDEV)
    6:45
    COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 15 (RICK NASH) 14:02
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD T

    Dec 29 8:38 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 0
    COLUMBUS 3
    2ND PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 15 (RICK NASH) 14:02

    Hurricanes vs. Blue JacketsDec 29 8:28 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 0
    COLUMBUS 2
    2ND PRD: COB - (PP) ROSTISLAV KLESLA 4 (RON HAINSEY, NIKOLAI ZHERDEV)
    6:45

    Hurricanes vs. Blue JacketsDec 29 8:16 PM


  • NHL
    CAROLINA 0
    COLUMBUS 1
    2ND PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 14 (UNASSISTED) 2:06

    Hurricanes vs. Blue JacketsDec 29 8:07 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 0 0
    COLUMBUS 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    CAR 7 7
    COB 9 9
    GOALIES: CAR - CAM WARD
    COB - PASCAL LECLAIRE

    Dec 29 7:46 PM