COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Nikita Filatov’s scoring touch from the world junior championships is holding up in the NHL.
The 18-year-old became the first Columbus rookie to score three goals, helping the Blue Jackets beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Saturday night.
“He’s a scorer and he looks like a scorer on the ice,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s a smart, smart offensive player. He positions himself, offensively, really well. He finds holes other people don’t look for.”
Filatov scored eight goals at the recent world junior championships to lead Russia to the bronze medal. He was recalled soon afterward by Columbus and now has four goals in six career games.
“It’s unbelievable,” Filatov said. “I have so many emotions, so many feelings. Unbelievable moment.”
Derek Dorsett also scored, Jakub Voracek added a career-high three assists and Michael Peca had two more for Columbus, playing its first home game after a successful cross country trip they finished 4-2.
Columbus has won seven of eight at home.
Rookie goalie Steve Mason, who entered as the league leader with six shutouts and a 1.74 goals-against average—and was not picked for the upcoming All-Star game—made 21 saves to improve to 15-9-1. Fans chanted his name as the third period wound down.
Marek Zidlicky had a power-play goal and assist, and Antti Miettinen scored for the Wild, who continued to struggle offensively and on the road. They came in as the second-lowest scoring team and have lost eight of 10 away from St. Paul.
“This cannot happen,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. To show up like this, it can’t happen.”
Tied 1-1 entering the third, the Blue Jackets scored three goals in 4:12 to pull away.
Dorsett stuffed home a centering pass at 2:23 on a 2-on-1 rush with Alexandre Picard.
Filatov made it 3-1, snapping a shot from the left circle at 4:59 over Josh Harding, making only his ninth appearance of the season. He got the start in place of All-Star selection Niklas Backstrom, who has been battling the flu.
Just 1:35 later, Filatov scored from the right circle, again on assists from Peca and Voracek.
“I think it was a perfect line for tonight,” Filatov said. “We got a lot of chances, we played well in our zone.”
Filatov opened the scoring, stealing the puck from Martin Skoula at the Wild blue line. With Filatov on a breakway, Harding dove for the puck and Filatov went airborne and crashed into the goal after the puck crossed the line just 3:21 in.
Miettinen tied it at 10:01 of the period for his 10th and only second in 14 games on a seemingly innocent snap shot from the point.
Zidlicky rounded out the scoring with a long shot in the game’s final minute for his sixth.
The Blue Jackets’ young players and role players have had to contribute more due to injuries. Six regulars are out, not including backup goalie Pascal Leclaire. The injury list includes three of the team’s top six scorers, led by points leader and captain Rick Nash.
“It’s just a lot of fun to play with those guys,” Peca said of the rookies. “I think we knew our depth in the organization would be tested during this stretch. I think we’ve come through pretty well.”
The Blue Jackets entered having allowed one even-strength goal in the last seven games. … The Wild finished a four-game road trip 2-2. … Blue Jackets’ LW Fredrik Modin played in his 800th career game.