LOS ANGELES (AP)Unexpected contributors have kept the injury-riddled Columbus Blue Jackets afloat.
That was the case again as the Blue Jackets continued their road success to open a four-game West Coast swing.
Scott Harrington and Nathan Gerbe scored in the second period and the Blue Jackets beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Monday night.
Kevin Stenlund and Gustav Nyquist also scored, and Elvis Merzlikins made 35 saves for the Blue Jackets, who are 5-0-3 in their past eight road games.
”We’re not, I don’t think, overly concerned with keeping these streaks alive, but we’re definitely concerned with playing the right way,” Harrington said after Columbus improved to 9-1-4 in its past 14 games. ”Whenever you play the right way, that’s whenever you string points consecutively together.”
Alex Iafallo scored to extend his point streak to seven games but the Kings lost for the third time in four games. Sean Walker had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves.
The Blue Jackets scored twice 3:47 apart in the second period to go ahead. Harrington’s first goal of the season put Columbus in front 2-1 at 10:40 after Gerbe tied it 1-all at 6:53 with a one-timer. It was Gerbe’s second goal in seven games this season.
Merzlikins, playing in just his 14th game, allowed the Blue Jackets to build up to that strong stretch by stopping all but one of the Kings’ 16 shots in the first period.
”Elvis gives us a chance to just get our feet underneath us,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ”And then, second period, we just played harder and we skated. Got a lot more forechecking opportunities and we find a way to score some goals.”
Stenlund made it 3-1 at 4:49 of the third by sneaking a wrist shot under Quick’s right arm for his third goal in 14 career games.
Even with so much inexperience in the lineup, Tortorella was impressed by how the Blue Jackets responded after Walker cut the deficit to 3-2 at 11:15 of the third on a wrist shot through traffic.
”The thing I liked about our team is we get the lead 3-1, they score, and there was just no panic in our game,” Tortorella said. ”They just kept on playing. Ugly at times, but yeah, we found a way.”
Nyquist added an empty-netter with 59.6 seconds remaining.
The Kings are 2-5-1 in their last eight games and ”have to play an A game to win right now,” coach Todd McLellan said.
”We have to play an A game to score,” McLellan said. ”We need tremendous goaltending. We need good penalty kill. We’ve got to prevent goals to have success. And that’s OK. We know where we are. That’s OK with us. But some nights we just don’t get all of that at the same time and it costs us.”
Iafallo, who put the Kings in front 1-0 at 1:26 of the first period by scoring for the third straight game, has four goals and four assists during his point streak. It is the longest of Iafallo’s career and the team’s longest this season.
NOTES: Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg had an assist in his 400th career game. … Columbus forward Sonny Milano had an assist, his third point in a three-game point streak since returning from an upper-body injury. … Blue Jackets D Markus Nutivaara returned after missing 27 games because of an upper-body injury. … Kings D Derek Forbort made his season debut after missing the first 43 games because of a back injury.
Blue Jackets: At the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
Kings: Host the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.
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