RALEIGH, N.C. — The Columbus Blue Jackets wanted to do something that mattered late in the season and they accomplished that Saturday night.
They stuck it to the Carolina Hurricanes, who’ve been rather problematic recently for the Blue Jackets.
Brandon Saad produced his first hat trick as Columbus upended the Hurricanes 5-1 on Saturday night at PNC Arena.
“We’re still playing for pride,” Blue Jackets left winger Scott Hartnell said. “We’re playing for ourselves. The matchup against Carolina, it has been a frustrating year, especially against these guys.”
Not any more after this decisive result.
Boone Jenner also scored for the Blue Jackets, reaching 30 goals for the season, during the wild second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored for Columbus in the third period.
“The last few months I think we’ve been growing as a team,” Jenner said. “It’s tough at this time of the year, we’re not playing for the playoffs. We just have to try to keep growing in the right direction.”
Jeff Skinner scored for the Hurricanes (34-29-16), whose bid for a spot in the postseason took a damaging blow.
Saad had his three goals by the end of the second period for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Columbus (31-39-8) is trying to avoid finishing with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s something we want to be good at, coming back in games and not quitting,” Jenner said.
“(The Hurricanes) have been playing some good hockey.”
That wasn’t evident across the last two periods when the Hurricanes managed a total of 11 shots.
Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots.
Sonny Milano, playing in his second NHL game, assisted on Saad’s second goal for his first point in the league.
Goalie Eddie Lack made 22 saves for Carolina.
The outcome just about puts the Hurricanes out of playoff contention with a week to go in the season.
“We’re going to work on our game and build a team that’s hard to play against,” Carolina center Jordan Staal said.
The Blue Jackets led 4-1 through two periods despite the Hurricanes dictating play at times.
Saad’s three goals turned the tide and then it got worse for Carolina.
Jenner added a goal with less than a second remaining in the second period on a five-on-three power play.
It’s turning into a special season for Jenner.
“I’ve just got to keep going,” he said. “I feel good, so I have to just stick with it.”
Skinner opened the scoring, collecting the puck around the blue line and made a nifty move to find space and launch a shot from the right side.
“He’s tenacious around pucks and he’s back to that,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said of Skinner.
The Blue Jackets didn’t have a shot on goal for more than seven minutes to begin the game. But they pulled even on Saad’s first goal with 5:43 to go in the opening period.
Saad charged down the ice on what amounted to nearly a full length of the ice breakaway.
That was one of the few early scoring chances for the Blue Jackets because the Hurricanes had a 17-4 first-period edge in shots.
“Our starts have not been good enough,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “That’s all we’re looking for from our team is competing hard and let the chips fall where they may.”
NOTES: Hurricanes D Justin Faulk entered the game with 16 goals, matching the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman since relocation to North Carolina almost 20 years ago. Anton Babchuk reached 16 goals previously. … The Blue Jackets sent D Justin Falk back to Lake Erie of the American Hockey League. He had been back with Columbus for a game, though he was scratched. … The Hurricanes called up F Brody Sutter and F Brendan Woods from Charlotte of the AHL after sending down C Derek Ryan and LW Sergey Tolchinsky. The latter made his NHL debut on Thursday night. … Columbus returns home for Monday night’s game against the New York Rangers. … This was the second-to-last home game for Carolina, which goes to Boston on Tuesday night before the home finale on Thursday night against Montreal.