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Ward makes early lead stand for Hurricanes, 4-2

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Zach Boychuk, Riley Nash, Justin Faulk and Eric Staal scored in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

The Hurricanes, who started 0-6-2, have won three in a row. Cam Ward made 17 saves.

Nick Foligno scored twice for the injury-riddled Blue Jackets, who have lost six in a row. His jam shot with 5:23 left cut the lead to 3-2. Columbus threatened to tie it, but Ward stopped Scott Hartnell’s point-blank shot and Ryan Johansen’s rush.

Curtis McElhenny, the backup to the injured Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped 33 shots.

The Blue Jackets last lost six in a row (0-5-1) from Jan. 19-Feb. 1, 2013. They haven’t lost six straight in regulation since Nov. 10-20, 2006. Coach Gerard Gallant was fired three days later.

The Blue Jackets trailed 2-1 when they went on a power play early in the second period, but Carolina extended its lead.

Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson lost the puck, and Faulk carried it up the left side. He fought off a challenge from rookie Alexander Wennberg and then lunged while pushing the puck past McElhenny for the short-handed goal.

Ward made a strong save when he got a piece of Cam Atkinson’s one-timer from the slot in the waning moments of the period. He also stopped Matt Calvert — just back in the lineup from missing four games with a lower-body injury — on a rush early in the third.

Foligno made things interesting when he raced to the net and powered the puck past Ward.

The Hurricanes dominated even-strength play in the opening period and outshot the Blue Jackets 19-8.

McElhenny surrendered a big rebound of Elias Lindholm’s shot that Boychuk controlled while fighting off defenseman Tim Erixon. He scored his second of the season at 15:33 of the second.

Less than 2 minutes later, it was 2-0. Andrej Sekera’s seeing-eye pass from the boards at the blue line found Nash in the high slot. He settled the puck, wheeled, and ripped a shot that easily eluded McElhenny for his second goal.

The Blue Jackets scored on their first power play after Victor Rask went off for hooking late in the first.

Foligno fed Johansen on the left wing, and Johansen deked and slid a hard shot from the circle. Ward got in front of the shot, but it ricocheted directly to Foligno, who charged in and jammed in his fifth goal.

The Blue Jackets were without four top forwards: Nathan Horton (back), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Artem Anisimov (concussion) and Mark Letestu (groin), along with starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and best offensive defenseman James Wisniewski.

One of the team’s top defenseman, Ryan Murray, is out with a recurrence of knee problems, and rookie defenseman Cody Goloubef is also sidelined for at least a month with a knee injury.

NOTES: Earlier Tuesday, the Blue Jackets activated LW Matt Calvert and assigned C Sean Collins to AHL Springfield. … Carolina RW Alexander Semin, a healthy scratch the previous two games (both wins), returned and was on the first line alongside Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty. … D Frederic St. Denis played his first NHL game since April 17, 2012, with Montreal, and made his Blue Jackets debut. … It was the first of a home-and-home series this week between the teams.

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