COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rookie Matt Calvert had three goals and an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets bounced back from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3 on Friday night.
Calvert, playing in his 20th NHL game, had never had two goals in a game. His night included a highlight-reel score when he tipped the puck to himself waist high and then batted it like a pull hitter to give Columbus — which has won three in a row, five of six and has points in nine of its last 10 games — a 4-2 lead.
R.J. Umberger had a goal and two assists, Jacob Voracek scored, Derek MacKenzie had two assists and Steve Mason stopped 25 shots for the Blue Jackets.
The Coyotes, who had won eight in a row before an 8-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday, got goals from David Schlemko, Radim Vrbata and Lauri Korpikoski.
The game was important for both teams with Phoenix, playing its fourth game on a five-game Eastern swing, trying to hang onto a playoff spot and the Blue Jackets inching closer to the top eight in the West.
The Blue Jackets were 3 for 9 on the power play — their most productive game of the season on the advantage. They did not score two power-play goals until their 49th game, but have scored two or more five times in the last 12. A team that had just five goals with the man advantage in the month of November had three power-play goals in a span of 7:47 against the Coyotes.
Calvert, playing his first professional season, has six goals in the last five games.
Just 2:37 into the second period, with the score tied at 2, he fired a shot on the power play that glanced off defenseman Derek Morris' jersey and into the net.
Midway through, he scored as if he were taking batting practice.
He then lifted his own rebound past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for his third goal at 3:27 of the third period, becoming only the second Blue Jackets rookie to score that many in a game. A crowd of 16,771 tossed hundreds of hats onto the ice. The P.A. announcer eventually asked fans to not throw any more onto the playing surface.
Calvert, a fifth-round pick in the '08 draft, showed a knack for finding the net in his three years with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, totaling 99 goals from 2007-20010. He started his first professional season at Columbus' top minor-league affiliate, Springfield of the American Hockey League, before being recalled on Jan. 6. The 21-year-old has been a valuable sniper ever since, totaling nine goals and four assists in his 20 games.
The Coyotes had everything going their way early.
Just 1:34 in, Schlemko, trailing the play, opened the scoring. Not long after, Bryzgalov stopped Umberger on a penalty shot. Umberger tried to jam the puck between Bryzgalov's leg pads but the goalie smothered it.
After the Blue Jackets had two giveaways in their defensive zone, Vrbata made them play when he scored on a backhander with defenseman Marc Methot draped across his back.
But the rest of the period and the game belonged to the Blue Jackets. They converted on their first two power-play opportunities, with Umberger picking up his 20th when he crashed the net and scored off a MacKenzie assist.
Columbus later had more than a minute of 5 on 3, with Voracek corralling a blocked shot at the right doorstep and attempting to pass through the crease. But the puck went off the right skate of Michal Rozsival and slipped past Bryzgalov.
Notes: Former Columbus head coach Dave King, now a Phoenix assistant, attended Blue Jackets practice on Thursday. ... With the NHL trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, scouts from 8 NHL teams were at the game: Atlanta, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Jose and Minnesota. ... Before the game, the Blue Jackets placed LW Kristian Huselius on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 18. ... Mikkel Boedker had two assists for the Coyotes. ... Columbus had lost the last five meetings.