COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Jason Williams added to his good feelings about playing in Nationwide Arena.
It was Williams’ first career three-goal game. The last time he played on the Blue Jackets’ home ice, he scored twice in a 4-2 Detroit win, back in the spring of 2004.
“I do like playing here. It’s a great rink,” Williams said. “I remember the last time I was here I scored two goals. It was in the back of my mind.”
Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk also scored for the Red Wings (8-1-0), who won their fifth game in a row and have the NHL’s best record. Conversely, the Blue Jackets (2-6-0) have the fewest goals (15) in the league and are tied for the fewest points (4).
“We had nothing going tonight,” Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. “There was one team playing tonight.”
Datsyuk also had two assists, and Zetterberg added one. Manny Legace had 17 saves in his second shutout of the season.
“We got off to a great start,” Legace said. “We just got off to a good start and the boys played good in front of me the rest of the way.”
Just 37 seconds later, Blue Jackets forward Michael Rupp threw the perfect centering pass—in front of his own goal—to Franzen for an easy goal.
Williams picked up his second goal off some precision puck movement, with Tomas Holmstrom passing along the back boards to Datsyuk, who put the puck on Williams’ stick in the high slot.
Williams notched his third to make it 4-0 at the 15:54 mark after Brendan Shanahan dug the puck off the wall and fed him near where he picked up his second goal.
“Obviously our guys got prepared. You have to give our guys credit—they were real professional,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We had our ‘A’ game early.”
After a scoreless second period, the Wings made it 5-0 on Jason Woolley’s cross-ice backdoor pass to Zetterberg for an easy jam shot at 7:11 of the third. Datsyuk then scored off a rebound at 14:09.
Denis surrendered four of the goals on 17 shots, with Martin Prusek giving up two goals on 19 shots in his season debut for the Blue Jackets.
Because of the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement, the Red Wings had to cut loose a lot of veteran talent to get under the salary cap. As a result, they seem younger, faster and hungrier.
“Everybody seems to be on the right page,” Williams said. “When everybody’s working together, it makes it that much easier. We’re playing good as a team right now and hopefully we can keep it going.”
A quirk in the schedule has the Red Wings playing at Nationwide Arena again Monday night.
“It’s probably a good thing that we get back at them in 48 hours,” Denis said. “We have a chance to make amends and redeem ourselves here. I remember two years ago we went to Detroit and got our lunches handed to us. We came back here and beat them at home.”
Detroit is 4-0 on the road. … Woolley extended his assists streak to five games in a row and Mathieu Schneider and Brendan Shanahan each have points in their last four games. … It was the second-worst home shutout for the Blue Jackets, topped only by an 8-0 loss to Boston in 2002. … The Red Wings were 1-for-4 on the power play and Columbus 0-for-6. … The Blue Jackets are 2-1 when they score first, 0-5 when they don’t.