EditorsNote: tweaked 2nd graf
Elvis Merzlikins stopped 27 shots to record his first NHL shutout as Columbus Blue Jackets cruised to a 3-0 victory over the slumping Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Merzlikins, making his seventh consecutive start since Joonas Korpisalo injured his knee during a shootout in a 3-2 loss to Chicago on Dec. 29, improved to 5-6-4 while playing in just his 17th career game.
Emil Bemstrom had a goal and an assist, and Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alexander Wennberg also scored goals for Columbus, which improved to 7-1-3 in its last 11 road games. Kevin Stenlund added two assists.
Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 19 saves for Vegas, which lost its third straight game, all in regulation.
Columbus, which had allowed the first goal in five straight games, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period on a power-play goal by Bemstrom. Seth Jones fed a pass to Bemstrom at the top of the left circle, where he one-timed a shot past Fleury’s glove side for his fourth goal of the season.
It marked the sixth straight game in which Vegas allowed the first goal. The Golden Knights have been outscored 10-0 in the first period over their last four games.
Dubois made it 2-0 early in the second period with his 15th goal of the season, deflecting Scott Harrington’s drive from the left point. It was just one of two shots in the period for the Blue Jackets, who were outshot 11-2 in the period and 27-22 overall.
Vegas had a chance to cut the deficit in half early in the third period when Reilly Smith broke in and had a clean look at goal, but his wrist shot caromed off the crossbar.
The Blue Jackets then extended the lead to 3-0 midway through the period on Wennberg’s first goal in 36 games, a wrist shot from the left circle that dipped under Fleury’s blocker for his third goal of the season.
—Field Level Media