|Phoenix Coyotes' Gilbert Brule, front, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Dane Byers fight for a loose puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. The Blue Jackets beat the Coyotes 4-3. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)|
Brassard lifts Blue Jackets past Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night, giving Todd Richards a win in his home debut as interim head coach.
Rick Nash also scored and Tomas Kubalik and Ryan Russell each had their first NHL goals for the Blue Jackets, who fired second-year head coach Scott Arniel on Monday and elevated Richards to replace him.
Curtis Sanford had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets, who had lost two in a row and four of five.
Lauri Korpikoski had a goal and two assists, Radim Vrbata a goal and a helper and Oliver Ekman-Larsson two assists for the the Coyotes, who have lost four road games in a row. Adrian Aucoin also scored.
Columbus, which led 2-1 after a period, took a two-goal lead by scoring in the first and last 2 minutes of the second period.
Following the lead of Kubalik, Russell scored at the 1:52 mark on a wraparound off a rebound.
Phoenix cut the lead to a goal when Ekman-Larsson left a drop pass for Vrbata, whose centering pass into a crowd went off the left skate of Korpikoski as he rushed the net.
Sanford smothered a redirect by Shane Doan on a Coyotes power play shortly before Brassard pushed the lead to 4-2.
He took the puck and skated in a circle from the short boards near the Blue Jackets bench to the high slot before wristing a hard, high shot past Jason LaBarbera for his sixth of the year.
The Coyotes pulled to 4-3 in the third period when Korpikoski's long stretch pass found Vrbata behind the Columbus defense. He came in all alone on Sanford and scored on a backhander.
Phoenix's Ray Whitney, a former Blue Jacket, had two scoring chances in the final seconds. He had a shot in close that was deflected by Sanford. He then tried to bank the puck in from behind the goal cage but it went just wide.
An crowd of 14,119 was quieted just 1:49 after the start when Aucoin, who had just crossed the blue line, stepped into a pass from Daymond Langkow on a one-timer for just his second goal of the year.
But the Blue Jackets showed some life.
They tied it when Kubalik crashed the net and was rewarded when Aaron Johnson hit him with a backhanded centering pass that he was able to redirect.
Another 95 seconds later, Nash circled with the puck before his hard wrist shot from near the top of the right circle eluded LaBarbera, who might not have been able to see the puck while Columbus' forward Vinny Prospal tangled with a defenseman who was backed up right up tight to the goalie.
NOTES: Columbus LW R.J. Umberger missed the game due to a concussion, ending his franchise record for consecutive games played at 288. He had played in 291 straight games, the fifth-longest active streak in the NHL. ... The Coyotes did not skate Friday morning after flying in from a 3-2 shootout loss in Detroit. ... Vrbata has goals in his last three games and points in his last four. ... It was the second time this season two Blue Jackets players scored their first NHL goals in the same game. D John Moore and C Ryan Johansen did it on Oct. 25 in 4-1 win over Detroit.