The Columbus Blue Jackets’ interim coach Todd Richards had a message for his players after their Tuesday game against the Minnesota Wild.
“My message to them was I’ll sleep pretty good tonight and enjoy this one,” Richards said.
Richards, a former coach of the Wild from 2009-11, saw his current club defeat Minnesota, 3-1, at Nationwide Arena. Defenseman David Savard, center Antoine Vermette and center Jeff Carter tallied goals while Curtis Sanford stood tall between the pipes for Columbus, tallying 28 saves to preserve the win.
At 5:16 of the first period, the Blue Jackets went on the power play after Wild defenseman Nick Schultz was sent to the penalty box for holding.
Perhaps the best moment on the power play came when, with the penalty time ticking down, Blue Jackets right-winger Derek Dorsett engaged Wild defenseman Nate Prosser in a fight.
Dorsett pummeled Prosser to the ice, bringing the 11,237 in attendance to life.
Like their fans, the Blue Jackets came to life after the fight.
Just more than a minute and a half later at 8:59 of the first period, Savard found the back of the net on a slap shot from the point to give Columbus a 1-0 lead.
The goal was Savard’s first of the year and the first of his career.
The Blue Jackets controlled play for the rest of the period out shooting the Wild 14-7, but would end the period tied 1-1.
Richards said he was impressed with the way his team handled exiting the first period tied.
“It’s a confidence thing,” he said. “That comes from the players. The guys stuck with it.”
With less than a minute-and-a-half left in the period, the Wild’s Prosser fired a shot from the right point that made its way past screened Sanford, though, to tie the game.
Sanford made a number of key saves in the second period to keep the score tied at one a piece.
The Blue Jackets earned their third power play of the game at 15:23 of the second period after the Wild’s Schultz made another trip to the penalty box, this time for hooking.
Seconds into the power play, Vermette would break the tie by notching his seventh goal of the year on assists from right-winger Rick Nash and defenseman Fedor Tyutin.
It was Vermette’s first goal since a Jan. 10 game against the Chicago Blackhawks and his ninth point in the last 12 games.
Vermette’s goal proved to be all the help Sanford would need as he kept the Wild scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Carter added an insurance marker early in the third period for his 12th goal of the season.
It was only Carter’s second game back from a shoulder injury sustained in early January.
“He’s been playing very well for us,” Richards said.
The Blue Jackets finished the evening 1-of-7 on the power play.
The win gives the Blue Jackets two in a row headed into Thursday’s home game against the Dallas Stars.
The Blue Jackets now have 36 points in 53 games, but still reside in fifth place in the Central Division of the Western Conference.