The way the season has gone for the Columbus Blue Jackets, some might assume a 6-3 scoreline associated with the team to be another loss.
That wasn’t the case against the San Jose Sharks Thursday.
The Blue Jackets got first period goals from centers R.J. Umberger, Jeff Carter and left-winger Rick Nash and cruised to 6-3 victory against the Sharks Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
Carter finished the night with a hat trick and defenseman David Savard added the other tally for the Blue Jackets who scored six goals for the first time all season.
The Blue Jackets had not scored four goals in a game, let alone in a single period, since a Jan. 17 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.
Goalie Steve Mason made 38 saves for the Blue Jackets and picked up his eighth win of the season as his Sharks counterpart Antti Niemi was pulled in the first period after giving up the first three goals of the game.
Blue Jackets’ interim coach Todd Richards said that the team’s quick start on the scoreboard was key to the game.
“It gave us some confidence, especially on the power play,” Richards said of the way his team started.
The Blue Jackets continued their torrid pace on the power play, picking up three more goals with the man advantage to give them power-play goals in eight of their last nine games.
Despite the wide margin in the score, the Sharks out shot the Blue Jackets 18-15 during the first period and Mason made a number of key saves to keep his team in the lead.
“Our goalie made saves at key times for us,” Richards said.
The Sharks made things interesting, albeit for a brief moment, after starting the second period with two goals before six minutes had elapsed on the game clock.
“They were obviously upset going into the second and came out and got a couple of quick ones,” Umberger said.
It would be the closest the score would get for the rest of the game after a poorly timed double-minor penalty picked up moments later by Sharks’ left-winger Ryane Clowe gave the Blue Jackets the momentum back and they were able to regain a three-goal lead after Savard found the back of the net.
Umberger called the play by Clowe an “extremely selfish” one.
It was cruise control from there as Carter completed his hat trick early in the third period on a pass from Nash who gave up a wide open net to dish it to Carter.
Not to be lost on the evening was Umberger’s first career Gordie Howe hat trick.
A Gordie Howe hat trick occurs after a player records a goal, assist, and fight all in the same game and is named after legendary Detroit Red Wing Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe.
Umberger completed the feat in the first period after scoring the games first goal, assisting on Nash’s, and the engaging in a fight with Sharks’ center Tommy Wingels.
The dominant performance by the Blue Jackets over one of the best teams in the Western Conference comes as the Feb. 27 National Hockey League trade deadline approaches and rumors surrounding Nash and Carter continue to swirl.
“I don’t have any say in that,” Carter said in response to a question about his performance on the evening increasing the likelihood that he’ll be traded.
The Blue Jackets continue their season Friday against the Colorado Avalanche at 7:05.