COLUMBUS, Ohio — After the Columbus Blue Jackets’ biggest offensive outburst of the season, forward Brandon Dubinsky was asked if he saw it coming.
“Something had to give, right?” he said.
Dubinsky had a goal and an assist and the Blue Jackets dominated against the NHL’s stingiest defense in a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.
James Wisniewski and Nikita Nikitin added goals, Cody Goloubef picked up his first NHL goal and Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu tied a franchise record by scoring 8 seconds apart in the third period. Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert each had two assists.
No wonder San Jose coach Todd McLellan was fuming after the game when asked for a brief summation of went wrong.
“Outworked? How about that?” he said after his club’s fifth straight defeat in the wake of a 7-0 start. “It’s pretty simple. The team that works the hardest wins. (We were) outworked, outexecuted, outdetailed, outgoaltended — out-a lot of things.”
The Sharks did not play like a team that flew into Columbus on Saturday and had only played one game in the last six days. The Blue Jackets, stuck in a three-game skid during which they couldn’t buy a goal, had played four games in that same span and were in action at home for the second night in a row.
“We had every excuse (Monday) not to play well,” said Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. “I liked that there were no excuses.”
San Jose came in allowing an NHL-low 1.82 goals per game. Columbus was next-to-last in the 30-team league scoring just 1.92 goals a game.
Yet Columbus scored 43 seconds into the game, added two goals 1:11 apart in the second period and then scored three goals in the opening 5:45 of the final period.
“Right off the start, the first shift, they score a goal. You don’t want to do that,” San Jose captain Joe Thornton said of Dubinsky’s first goal of the season. “But then we played some good hockey. You’re down 3-1 and then they score again to start the third period. It was just one of those games you put behind, you get ready for (Tuesday).”
In one of the wildest periods of the season — the teams scored three goals in 84 seconds — the Blue Jackets expanded a 1-0 lead in the second.
They stacked up three power plays, including 36 seconds of 5-on-3. After that expired, they made it 2-0 with the man advantage when Derick Brassard skated along the goal line toward the cage, drawing goalie Thomas Greiss. But Brassard slid a quick pass to Wisniewski for a one-timer at the left hash to make it 2-0.
Just over a minute later, it was 3-0. Goloubef, playing in his fifth career NHL game, sat in the right point while Derek MacKenzie carried the puck along the back boards and slid the puck from the left corner across the ice to him. He steadied the puck and then rocketed a slap shot, with Foligno and Derek Dorsett providing traffic.
“You think about playing your first game and scoring your first goal,” said the 23-year-old Goloubef. “It’s huge. I got a great pass from Mac and two guys were at the net. I just tried to get it there hard and low and good things happened.”
Before that goal could be announced, San Jose’s Patrick Marleau pulled up at the top of the left circle and hit a hard shot that Wisniewski couldn’t block and goalie Steve Mason, who had 25 saves, couldn’t stop. It was Marleau’s 10th goal of the season — but first point in six games — and came just 13 seconds after Goloubef’s goal.
“I don’t think we came in here taking them lightly,” said Joe Pavelski, who ended a 1-for-27 power-play drought when he scored late for the Sharks. “It didn’t happen for us (Monday). You can’t have that. You don’t want to lose like that.”
After the second intermission, the Blue Jackets were at it again. Just 21 seconds in Calvert slid a pass from behind the goal cage to the onrushing Nikitin, who put his blade on the ice and almost pushed the puck through Greiss for his first of the year.
“I didn’t see the puck very well,” said Greiss, who came in allowing 1.01 goals a game but was tagged for all six with more than 13 minutes left on the clock in the third. “I just didn’t play well.”
Dubinsky came to Columbus in the blockbuster deal that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers last summer. He was encouraged by what he saw on Monday night.
“We all played the right way for 60 minutes,” he said. “You saw the result that should happen when we play that way.”