NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Columbus
(Saturday, December 29th)
Final Score: Columbus 4, Carolina 1
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Nikolai Zherdev had a hand in every Columbus goal, scoring twice and assisting on two others, as the Blue Jackets beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, at Nationwide Arena.
Rostislav Klesla and Kris Beech each scored, and Rick Nash had an assist for Columbus, which has won three of five. Pascal Leclaire stopped 23-of-24 shots in the win.
Eric Staal scored the lone goal for Carolina, which has dropped three of five. Ray Whitney had the assist, and Cam Ward made 17 saves in two periods before being taken out in the third. John Grahame came in and made two saves, allowing no goals.
After a scoreless first period, Columbus came alive in the second with a trio of goals. Zherdev got the Blue Jackets started 2:06 into the stanza with a solo goal, taking the puck behind his own net and weaving his way up-ice.
He took a shot from the right circle, which went between the legs of a defender, and past Ward, who was screened by his own man.
At the 6:45 mark with the Blue Jackets on the power play, Ron Hainsey blasted a shot from just below the blue line that ramped off Klesla's stick and over Ward.
Zherdev struck again with 5:58 left in the second period for his 15th tally of the season. Off a feed from Nash, he got a one-on-one with Ward, and scored on a top-shelf backhander that the sprawling goaltender couldn't catch, giving Columbus a 3-0 lead going into the third period.
"He's been playing great," Klesla said of Zherdev. "Every season he's better. He's 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's going to help him and us."
Carolina got on the board shortly into the final stanza, on the man-advantage. Off a pass from Whitney along the right boards, Staal skated in a few paces into the right circle. From there he ripped a shot through traffic that found the back of the net, and made it a 3-1 game 2:50 into the period.
But Leclaire stopped the rest of Carolina's 11 third-period shots to preserve the win, and Beech added an empty-net tally with 10 seconds left.
"Just everybody needed to be better," Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette said. "Everybody."
Zherdev has had one other four-point game in his career, on March 21, 2004, against Vancouver...Columbus hosts Edmonton on Monday before opening up a four-game road trip to start 2008...Carolina goes home for a two-game homestand against the Islanders and Thrashers.
12/29 22:52:39 ET