COLUMBUS, OHIO — Times and timing have changed for the rapidly improving Columbus Blue Jackets.
Raffi Torres ended a tie with a power-play goal late in the second period and Rick Nash scored a short-handed goal on Saturday night to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to their third win in a row, a 4-1 victory against the Kings.
"Timing is everything," said Coach Ken Hitchcock. "Torres' goal gave us a lift on the power play. Nash's goal gave us some breathing room to play with. A lot of our scoring chances were in the first period. We had some chances we didn't take advantage of and sometimes that can come back to bite you. We needed our goalie tonight and he was big."
Jason Chimera had a goal and Jake Voracek scored an empty-netter for Columbus, off to its best start in the franchise's nine years. Last season was the first time the club had a winning record or made the playoffs.
Steve Mason gave up a soft goal early to Dustin Brown but was brilliant in the third period as the Kings pressed. The Blue Jackets killed five penalties and have given up one goal in 24 power plays this season.
The Blue Jackets have scored more goals (two) when a man down than their NHL-leading penalty kill unit has given up (one).
Last on the power play in the league last season, Columbus has scored with the man advantage in five of its seven games this season.
The Kings have lost three in a row, all on the road.
"I'm not very happy about the game -- not very happy," said Kings Coach Terry Murray. "We need to check better and make better decisions with the puck."
Torres ended a 1-1 tie with three minutes left in the second period. His backhand slipped between the pads of goaltender Jonathan Quick after the Blue Jackets had buzzed the net in a scrum that saw three other Columbus players get their sticks on the puck.
"I fanned on it. I was going upstairs," Torres said. "The puck was kind of rolling a little bit so I just wanted to make sure I put whatever I could on it.
"The puck just popped out to me and I backhanded it."
Since trading for Torres before last season, he has been the Blue Jackets' good-luck charm. They are 13-1-0 in games in which he has scored, the only loss coming at San Jose last week to end a 12-game streak.