Sergei Bobrovsky was solid upon entering tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers, but he waited until the most critical juncture to make one the most important saves of the year for the Blue Jackets.
It was an unfortunate penalty on Nick Foligno, and one that the NHL and its referees are watching closely this season: Foligno went down behind the net in overtime and closed his hand on the puck in an attempt to move it forward, but referee Marc Joannette spotted the violation from the side of the net, and it gave the Oilers a 4-on-3 power play with the hockey game in the balance.
Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu and Fedor Tyutin were the three penalty killers for the Blue Jackets, who had to deal with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle on the man advantage -- not exactly a cakewalk two minutes, one might say.
Bobrovsky, who made 18 saves in regulation, added a game-changer on Eberle in overtime: Nugent-Hopkins slid a pass through the box to Eberle at the back post, and though it looked like he had an open net, Bobrovsky got across and made a save that got his teammates fired up on the ice and on the bench.
"It was huge for momentum...huge," Anisimov told BlueJackets.com. "It's not easy to play 4-on-3, and it's not easy to defend. The first save...that was nice, big for us. It's a tough play for me because it's back-door and there's a guy up high, too. I couldn't catch him with my stick.
"Bob made that save and I'm like 'yes, we're still in this.' It was great."Read the full story on Bobrovsky's big night inside this blog post.
A coach has a small number of cards to play, and one of them is changing the goaltender. Sometimes it works, and others it doesn't -- and it's definitely not a guarantee.
Todd Richards didn't like the pair of goals allowed by Steve Mason late in the first period and early in the second period, but he also acknowledged that his team was rather sloppy in its own end, leading to several chances for the Edmonton Oilers. When facing a skilled, aggressive team like the Oilers, those small mistakes are exponentially magnified.
When the Blue Jackets fell behind 3-2, it was a major turning point: Richards installed Sergei Bobrovsky in the net and despite coming in cold, he steadied the ship and made some game-saving stops along the way. Teams need that on occasion, and Bobrovsky was very sharp in relief tonight.
He did not allow a goal in regulation, overtime or the shootout -- and it was a catalyst for the Blue Jackets' second consecutive win.
Vinny Prospal was very good tonight, with a goal and an assist to along with energy throughout the contest. In his first game back from an upper body injury, Jack Johnson scored the tying goal in the third period and played nearly 27 minutes in all situations -- not bad for a guy getting back on the ice for the first time since a loss in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago.Get full analysis of tonight's shootout win inside this blog post!
GETTIN' STARTED EARLY: So I haven't moved on to from the thrilling finish to Sunday's game yet...which is why I've included video of Anisimov's game-winner against Colorado for you to enjoy one more time. Or 47 more, if you wish. It's up to you to re-live the #ArtyParty.
The Blue Jackets are in the midst of a stretch that sees them play nine of 10 at Nationwide Arena, including four straight - and the second of those four is tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, a team desperately seeking a victory. The Oilers have dropped back-to-back games and in disappointing fashion; they let a 2-0 lead in St. Louis get away from them on Friday, and Sunday in Minnesota, let a pair of quick third-period goals by the Wild derail them.
We'll continue to keep this page fresh with links, pertinent information, photos and interviews as we roll along toward game time. Keep it tuned to CBJ Today and this game day blog.
If it happens on game day, we'll have it right here.
The Blue Jackets have been looking for consistency and results after struggling through a stretch of hard-fought, one-goal contests. The first step in the right direction came Sunday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche, a pesky team that likes to push the pace on its opponents.
Not unlike the Avalanche are the Edmonton Oilers, who possess world-class skill on their top two lines and aren't afraid to open the game up and beat teams on the counterattack. They have learned to play a more patient and responsible game under first-year head coach Ralph Krueger, but have struggled in their past two games with giving up leads.
Edmonton held a 2-0 lead on Friday night in St. Louis and went into the third period tied 1-1 with Minnesota on Sunday, and lost both games by an identical 4-2 final. In the midst of a season-long nine-game road trip (thanks to men's curling championships being held at Rexall Place), the Oilers are well aware that they can either climb the playoff ladder or fall out of reach pending the outcome of this trip.
Looks as if Devan Dubnyk will carry the load in net for the Oilers, especially with Nikolai Khabibulin on the shelf with a groin injury. Dubnyk is expected to get the call tonight against the Blue Jackets, while it's possible Columbus will go back to Sergei Bobrovsky.Check out tonight's "three keys" to success for the Jackets inside this blog post.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The NHL announced some tweaks to its draft lottery system this afternoon, changes that will go into effect beginning with this year's draft in Newark, N.J.
For the first time in league history, all 14 non-playoff teams will have a chance at obtaining the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft -- as opposed to the previous system, under which a certain number of teams (bottom five in the league) could move up no more than four spots and get the top selection via lottery.
There is a new, weighted system in place for the lottery, which takes place April 29 on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs. No team in the lottery can fall more than one spot in the order, which is to say the 30th-place team cannot pick below second overall under this arrangement, and so on and so forth.
With three first-round draft picks for the first time in frachise history, the Blue Jackets figure to be a major part of this year's lottery and draft. John Davidson and new GM Jarmo Kekalainen also had three first-round picks during the 2007 NHL Draft, which was held at Nationwide Arena.
Double bonus tonight for the Blue Jackets: not only did they come out on the sunny side of a one-goal game, their power play propelled them to victory today at Nationwide Arena.
If there were two things due to turn in their favor, those would top the list. The power play's efficiency isn't something to hang your hat on - especially when the results aren't there - but there's been no denying the chances it has generated for the Blue Jackets. They simply have not been able to convert and it's cost them games in the past, but not in this game.
Vinny Prospal's team-leading eighth of the season was Columbus' first power play tally of the night, and he got a little assistance from recently-signed Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly on the play. O'Reilly knelt down in front of Semyon Varlamov to cut off the passing line, but Prospal wisely threw the puck toward the net, deflecting off O'Reilly and into the net to tie the game.
Goes to show how un-glorious the 5-on-3 needs to be sometimes, doesn't it? Forget the snappy puck movement and slam-dunk opportunities, just take advantage of the numerical, er, advantage and make something happen. The wise veteran did just that, and it still counts as a PPG when all is said and done.Check out complete post-game analysis from today's 2-1 OT win inside this blog post.
Afternoon matinees are typically odd games (at least to start), and the same can be expected when the Blue Jackets and Avalanche get together for a 3 p.m. tilt at Nationwide Arena.
There are some common threads between the two clubs, as well: they're each dealing with injuries to key members of their teams and neither has played particularly well on the road so far this season. The Avalanche open a brief three-game swing through the midwest with today's game before heading out to Detroit and Chicago later this week.
Coming off a disappointing overtime loss to the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, Todd Richards and the Blue Jackets know they have some mistakes to clean up but also some positives to glean from a pretty well-rounded performance. Save for one goal in the second period, Steve Mason was terrific for Columbus and made several key stops at crucial moments that gave the Blue Jackets an opportunity to tie the game in the third period.
The Avalanche are coming off a thrilling 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames on the same night they matched the Flames' RFA offer sheet for Ryan O'Reilly, who is expected to play this afternoon against the Blue Jackets. They erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 in the game, and Matt Duchene snapped home the game-winner in the third period for Colorado.Read today's "three keys" to success for the Blue Jackets inside this blog post.
Given how the last few games have gone for the Blue Jackets from an injury standpoint, an optional practice today and no morning skate tomorrow must be music to their ears.
During Friday's morning skate at the United Center in Chicago, defenseman John Moore suffered what's being described as an upper body injury and was unable to play in the club's 4-3 overtime loss. Coupled with injuries to James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson, there are plenty of minutes available on the blue line and coach Todd Richards has relied on several young defensemen to step up.
Tim Erixon, who has played increasingly better with each passing game, logged 25:13 last night against the Blackhawks and found himself on the ice in all situations. He had one of the more active stat lines, as well, with a few blocked shots, three hits, and a +1 rating.
With five defensemen to start the game (until Dalton Prout's arrival in the first period), the Blue Jackets had a quite a few blue liners log heavy minutes. Adrian Aucoin played a season-high 24:37 and Fedor Tyutin was 23 seconds short of 30 minutes of duty.
Richards said the quality minutes contributed by the young defensemen have been a positive, but credit for their play also goes to the veterans who have helped ease their transition to the NHL level.Read the full update from practice (incl. injury news) inside this blog post.
Due to injuries at the NHL level with the Blue Jackets, the Falcons are missing three of their top-six defensemen, several of their top forwards (Matt Calvert, Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson) but just keep plugging away and are chasing down the top spot in the entire American Hockey League.
Head coach Brad Larsen has his club atop the Northeast Division, as well, with a 32-14-7 record through 53 games -- and the Falcons have two games in hand on Eastern Conference-leading Syracuse, which is currently atop the AHL standings.
The Falcons accomplished a rare feat last night: they won two games in the span of about four hours. They completed a postponed game with Adirondack before their regularly-scheduled game took place (resuming the Feb. 17 game with 3:42 left in the second period), and rallied for a shootout win at MassMutual Center.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault provided a memorable shootout goal, going to the complete "spin-o-rama" and sweeping the puck behind Phantoms goalie Cal Heeter to propel the Falcons to their first win of the day.
Click inside this blog post for video of "JAM's" sweet shootout move!