Blue Jackets 5, Blackhawks 2


COLUMBUS, Ohio – David Vyborny scored twice and had an assist in the third period to power Columbus to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, giving the Blue Jackets a franchise record for points in a season.

The victory gave Columbus 72 points, erasing the mark in the Blue Jackets’ inaugural season in 2000-01 when a collection of castoffs somehow collected 71 points.

Dan Fritsche and Rick Nash each had a goal and an assist and Mark Hartigan also scored for Columbus.

Chicago, which tied the game in the second period after falling behind 2-0 in the first, lost its fifth game in a row. Brandon Bochenski and Kyle Calder had the Blackhawks’ goals.

In a season that was ruined by an NHL-worst 9-25-1 start, the Blue Jackets have regained some respect around the league with their solid play in the second half by rebounding to go 25-17-3 since. They’ve also set team records this season for victories (34), home wins (22), road wins (12) and goals (215).

The go-ahead goal came 9 seconds after a Chicago power play. On a rush, Fritsche left a drop pass for Vyborny who unloaded a hard one-timer from just above the left circle. The puck beat Nikolai Khabibulin high on the glove side at the 4:15 mark.

Vyborny’s second goal came from almost the exact same spot as his first, only this one beat Khabibulin on the stick side with 5:57 remaining. Nash set up the goal with a centering pass from the left wing.

Vyborny then returned the favor by threading a pass past two defenders to Nash for his 30th of the season with 2:02 left.

It was Nash’s return from knee and ankle injuries that heralded the Blue Jackets’ turnaround just before the holidays. His assist tied his career high (22) and his goal allowed him to become the first player since Mario Lemieux in 2000-01 to score 30 goals in a season while playing fewer than 53 games.

Adam Foote’s pass from the right boards glanced off the stick of Jody Shelley and went to Fritsche at the far post, who was sneaking in behind the cage and had an easy tap-in behind a surprised Khabibulin.

Hartigan then cleaned up after Khabibulin stopped Jaroslav Balastik’s hard shot from the high slot.

Hartigan has seven goals and two assists in the last nine games – after scoring one goal with no assists in his first 21 starts this season.

Just 1:45 into the second, Mark Cullen skated behind the net and took a Columbus player with him, paving the way for Bochenski to score on a wraparound. Marc Denis appeared to have the shot stopped but Bochenski jammed it through Denis’ skates.

Two minutes later, Calder stuck out his stick to score on a redirect of Jim Vandermeer’s hard slap shot from just inside the blue line. Calder caught enough of the puck to send it just under the crossbar.

Notes: Columbus called up Ds Andy Delmore and Jamie Pushor from Syracuse (AHL) before the game to fill in for Duvie Westcott (head injury) and Rostislav Klesla (groin). … Blackhawks LW Rene Bourque blocked a power-play one-timer by Delmore in the second period and had to be helped off the ice. … There were only six minor penalties in the game.

AP-ES-04-15-06 2139EDT