6:30 A.M. -- THE PUSH CONTINUES: Top of the mornin' to you, Blue Jackets fans. Are you ready for another awesome game day? We certainly are, and that's why the Game Day blog is fired up early today -- there's a rather significant hockey game going down in southern California tonight, and our job is to get you totally prepped for it.
Fresh off a ridiculously thrilling overtime win in Colorado, the Jackets are equal with the Red Wings (47 points) for the final playoff spot in the West. Detroit has the ROW tiebreaker but not the head-to-head, so points are crucial as this road trip continues.
Before we get going today - the Jackets are scheduled for a morning skate around 2:30 p.m. ET - let's re-live that Foligno game-winning goal because it was just so awesome:
Time and again, these Blue Jackets have proven that doing things the hard way is of no significance to them. Such was the case tonight in Denver, when they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a thriller at the Pepsi Center.
Let's rewind to when we were all slumping our shoulders a bit: a Nikita Nikitin high-sticking penalty put the Avalanche on the power play with just over two minutes left in regulation, and Stefan Elliot's power play tally gave Colorado a late 3-2 lead that loomed larger after the Jackets had a third period lead vanish in short order.
Rather than close up shop, the Blue Jackets needed only 35 seconds to put this game back on even terms and R.J. Umberger's eighth goal of the season might have been his biggest since arriving in Columbus five years ago. A lead pass through the neutral zone allowed Umberger to bust up the middle against Tyson Barrie, and backhand the puck through the five-hole of J.S. Giguere to tie the game 3-3 in the final 90 seconds.
The Blue Jackets' bench erupted, a few moments later, they got another prime opportunity with a power play late in regulation that almost burnt them - but the story of this game was a little good fortunate and a lot of heart. Bobrovsky made a huge save on Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog in overtime and in the final 30 seconds of sudden death, Nick Foligno snapped the puck through (again) Giguere's pads to give Columbus a massive two points in the standings.
1:10 A.M. PLAYOFF CHASE CONTINUES! -- Check out the latest in the Playoff Chase after all of tonight's games have finished up.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
12:00 A.M. RELIVE THE WINNER! -- Here's the highlight of Nick Foligno's overtime game-winning goal against the Avalanche:
11:40 P.M. MORE HIGHLIGHTS! -- Watch highlights of Blake Comeau's first goal as a Blue Jacket and R.J. Umberger's late game-tying goal in the third:
11:37 P.M. -- CBJ 4, COL 3 (OT)!: The Blue Jackets beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime on Nick Foligno's goal to continue the push in the playoff chase! Columbus is now even in points at 47 with Detroit, which currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with tiebreakers.
11:10 P.M. -- MID PERIOD UPDATE: The teams have traded goals here in the final period. Blake Comeau's first goal as a Jacket gave them a 2-1 lead early in the third, but a bizarre sequence at the other end resulted in McLeod's second of the night minutes later. It's a 2-2 game.
10:55 P.M. LETESTU STRIKES! -- Watch the highlight of Mark Letestu's second-period goal for the Blue Jackets tonight:
10:34 P.M. -- SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: It's been turbulent at times but the Blue Jackets are in good position entering the third period at Pepsi Center. Mark Letestu answered a second-period goal from Colorado's Cody McLeod to make this a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes, but the biggest juncture was a double-minor penalty kill by Columbus late in the period. Marian Gaborik was caught for high-sticking in the offensive zone and it gave the Avalanche a huge chance to take the lead, but the Jackets' best energy of the game came in that four-minute penalty kill.
9:42 P.M. -- FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The opening 20 minutes were probably bit too wide-open for Todd Richards' liking, but the Blue Jackets had some good energy in the first period. It's a scoreless tie at the Pepsi Center and both clubs had some good opportunities, with the Jackets getting two high-end chances that narrowly missed finding the back of the net. It was a good first from the Prospal-Letestu-Gaborik line, which had some speed off the rush and spent time in the Avs' zone on pretty much every shift.
9:23 P.M. -- MID PERIOD UPDATE: The chances are being traded back and forth in a free-flowing first period in Denver. The Dubinsky line in particular has been skating very well in the early going for Columbus...
6:27 P.M. MORE GAME DAY VIDEOS - Watch interviews with R.J. Umberger, head coach Todd Richards and our Game Day Preview on Jackets TV:
4:32 P.M. -- Bob McElligott has more audio from this morning in Colorado. (CLICK NAME TO LISTEN)
4:08 P.M. WIZ INTERVIEW - Check out this interview with Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski and Bob McElligott before tonight's game on Jackets TV:
2:23 P.M. -- Update...
#CBJ coach Todd Richards says Comeau will be inserted on the 4th line instead of Gillies and Erixon will be the scratch on the blue line— Jeff Rimer (@jrimercbj) April 15, 2013
1:51 P.M. -- FULL LINES AND PAIRS: Here's the expected CBJ lineup tonight in Denver...
1:47 P.M. -- CBJ LINEUP NOTES: Per Jeff Rimer in Denver, the Blue Jackets will be without the services of Artem Anisimov tonight after taking a hit to the head from Charlie Coyle in Minnesota. Colton Gillies goes back into the lineup and will play on the fourth line. Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal.
1:31 P.M. -- Listen to Boone Jenner's GWG in last night's Springfield Falcons game.
1:27 P.M. -- Bob McElligott has audio from this morning in Colorado. (CLICK NAME TO LISTEN)
TWEET FROM THE STREET
12:03 P.M. -- Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky Named National Hockey League's First Star for the Week Ending April 14
11:45 A.M. -- MARCH TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!
11:28 A.M. -- (NHL.com) Sergei Bobrovsky Sizzling for Columbus
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been looking for a top-flight goaltender since entering the NHL in 2000. In Sergei Bobrovsky, they may have finally filled that need.Bobrovsky's goaltending has been the biggest factor in the Blue Jackets' late push toward a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led Columbus to a perfect 3-0-0 showing last week by allowing only three goals despite facing 103 shots -- and that doesn't count the two shootout stops he made in Saturday's 3-2 road win against the Minnesota Wild.
9:00 A.M. -- NHL 14 Official Trailer -- Are you ready for this?
8:30 A.M. -- GAME DAY PREVIEW: Rob Mixer previews the showdown in Denver tonight with our BlueJackets.com game day preview. Get the scoop on tonight's game by clicking here.
7:30 A.M. -- RE-LIVE THE SHOOTOUT: It was a thrilling shootout win over the Wild and the Jackets got big saves from Bob, as well as two sweet goals from Letestu and Atkinson. Check out the full highlight...
6:30 A.M. -- GOOD MORNING, FRIENDS! We're ready for game day and are firing this baby up at the crack of dawn. The Blue Jackets, fresh off a shootout win in Minnesota on Saturday night, flew straight to Denver from St. Paul and had the day off yesterday in the Mile High City. It was a needed day off, too, as the Jackets have played four games in six days and are in the midst of a crucial six-game road trip.
The Avalanche stunned the Canucks on Saturday, scoring with 7.8 seconds left to win 4-3 on home ice. Columbus will have its hands full with a young, skilled team tonight that loves to use its transition game for offense.
Stay tuned to the blog all day long for the latest morning skate updates, photos, playoff chase news and so much more. The game day blog is THE place for CBJ news!
On nights like these, the words of Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards ring loudly: "belief is powerful thing," he will say when speaking of his team's relentless resolve and refusal to fold up the tents.
They could have done so tonight, playing their second game in as many nights and facing an opponent that's awfully good in its own building - and coming off a game in which they were shutout on home ice two nights earlier. But the Blue Jackets were emotionally engaged right off the bat after Charlie Coyle laid a high hit on Artem Anisimov that knocked Anisimov out of the game and will have him out of lineup indefinitely.
That's the bad news, and especially tough to hear about a guy like Anisimov who has fit in perfectly with the Blue Jackets. But with the help of their goaltender - who was tremendous in this game - the Jackets dug deep and earned two points in the standings that pulled them equal with Dallas and Detroit for eighth place.
Bobrovsky was the story, no doubt, but his teammates played a simple defensive game that produced opportunities in the business end of the rink. Letestu and Atkinson scored the only two goals in the shootout and Bobrovsky denied both Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu to secure the victory for the Jackets.
They took care of business last night on home ice vs. the St. Louis Blues, but today is a new day and the Wild are the next challenge for the Jackets. Less than a week ago, these two teams met at Nationwide Arena but it was Minnesota getting a 3-0 win in a game that the Blue Jackets players and coaches were not at all happy with.
Back to last night: the Blue Jackets had 11 different players record a point and got 31 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky in a big-time win in front of a boisterous crowd at Nationwide Arena.
Let's kick today's blog off with highlights from that game...
The playoff-like intensity and palpable buzz inside Nationwide Arena comes with the territory of playing important games in the middle of April, and as several Blue Jackets mentioned post-game, it makes it all the more easier to get up for such a hockey game.
From the drop of the puck, this felt like a different kind of game and one that - if successful - can propel a team to where it wants to go. And while there's plenty of work to be done and a steep hill to climb for the Blue Jackets to keep playing beyond the NHL regular season, they took a big step tonight and there's no denying that.
One week ago, they were in a similar situation: coming off a huge win in Nashville, the Blue Jackets faced a crucial game against the Blues at Scottrade Center and played in front of a loud, involved crowd that gave the Blues a lot of energy. Tonight, the backdrop was a rocking crowd in Columbus that was behind the home team from the get-go and roared its approval in the final minute with the end result well in hand.
Back-to-back goals in a span of 4:16 in the second period really deflated the Blues, who maxxed out their energy early in the game and held on as long as they could. The Blue Jackets gave them a bit of their own medicine, too, attacking in waves and rolling four lines with fresh legs.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- NHL.com and the NHL Network are airing today's Hobey Baker award announcement LIVE, and we have a video link for you to watch right here on BlueJackets.com. Who will win college hockey's most prestigious trophy?
Find out today at 6 p.m. and have the live stream ready!
WATCH LIVE: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=616&id=237983
6:30 A.M. -- LET'S DO THIS! All right, friends...it's that time again. The Blue Jackets are a few hours from getting game day officially underway with the morning skate, and a big game looms against the Blues tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Entering tonight, the Blue Jackets are three points back of the Detroit Red Wings for eighth place in the Western Conference with eight games remaining. The margin for error dwindles with each passing day, and tonight's game is no different - the Jackets have to defend home ice and pick up points before they head out on a nine-day road trip.
As always, this blog is your one-stop shop for all the game day news, photos, ticket giveaways and player interviews. Keep it locked right here - the "refresh" button is your BFF - and don't miss a beat as game day gets heated up.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Boone Jenner is getting rather accustomed to these playoff races.
In a span of a couple days, the 19-year-old Blue Jackets prospect will say goodbye to one playoff experience with his Oshawa Generals (OHL) teammates and dive head-first into the next significant challenge of his hockey career. When he joins the Springfield Falcons this week, Jenner will be part of another championship chase as the Falcons clinched a playoff spot and have a chance at the Calder Cup for the first time in 10 years.
Not a bad week, right?
And this won't be the first American Hockey League exposure for Jenner, either: the Blue Jackets' first pick (37th overall) in the 2011 NHL draft spent the tail end of last season on a tryout agreement with the Falcons, and scored one goal in five appearances. The circumstances are a bit different this time around under new management, a new coaching staff in Springfield and championship aspirations.
But as Jenner has proved time and again, there's no stage too big for his simple yet intelligent style of hockey that has both aggravated and garnered the respect of his opponents.
"This is a big challenge for him, there's no doubt about that," Blue Jackets assistant GM Chris MacFarland told BlueJackets.com. "We think it's a good springboard for these guys as they go into the summer to get exposed to the higher pace and how strong players are at this level. It's no different this time; he's a year older, he's certainly stronger and improved in all facets of his game."
All the Blue Jackets wanted to do was give themselves a chance, take one game at a time and treat every remaining game as if it was Game 7. Here they stand with eight games to play, two points back of eighth-place Detroit and right in the smack dab middle of it.
They needed this one tonight, and were desperate to get back to playing "Blue Jackets hockey" after their trademark speed and forechecking went incognito in a 3-0 loss to Minnesota over the weekend. For as well as they had played - going 11-3-3 in the 17 games prior to Sunday's loss - they really didn't want one clunker to send them over the edge.
With a response like they put forth tonight, a 4-0 shutout win over a team that's been playing some solid hockey, the Blue Jackets took care of the only thing they can control. Are the remaining eight games must-wins? It wouldn't be far-fetched to suggest it, but for this group, the spotlight rests now on Friday night against St. Louis -- with their 3-1 loss at Scottrade Center fresh in their minds.
Much like we've seen during this two-month stretch, the Blue Jackets got some early energy from their fourth line and got the lead goal from a duo that's provided a fair amount of them; Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson did their thing below the goal line in the first period to get things started, and Calvert chipped in his eighth of the year to open the scoring.
And what did the Jackets miss without James Wisniewski in the lineup? For starters, that wicked cannon of a shot. His fifth made it a 2-0 game in the second period and Antti Niemi could only hear the puck float past him. Ryan Johansen's third goal of the year made it a three-goal advantage less than two minutes later, and the Jackets never looked back from there.