Aftermath No. 22: Colorado
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.
On the game winner, Artem Anisimov (jokingly) said post-game that he gave Tim Erixon two chances to win the game but they came up empty, so he decided to take it upon himself. He fired a quick wrist shot through an Umberger screen at 2:26 of OT to send the Blue Jackets off with two points.
Let's get right to the breakdown of today's 2-1 overtime victory:
1. STICK-TO-IT-IVENESS: There was a lot of that from the team wearing blue today, especially after falling behind in the second period. They knew what they needed to do in order to create opportunities in the Colorado end, and they kept doing it. The forecheck was a factor, their special teams were strong and - lo and behold - when they got a chance to put it away, they did so. Credit goes to the players and the coaching staff for keeping it even-keeled and staying committed.
2. ARTY PARTY: Another very impressive showing from the 24-year-old center, and Ryan Johansen said Anisimov "was a monster out there." Hard to argue with that, seeing him take a shot off the leg/ankle/shin and limping off the ice in the first period and shake it off to return to the game, eventually scoring the game-winner. The Blue Jackets are simply a better, stronger team through the middle of the ice when he's in the lineup and it's becoming clear how important Anisimov is to the club. He logged 17:02 tonight, took five shots on goal and looks to be clicking well with Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson.
3. STRING IT TOGETHER: The Blue Jackets have yet to win consecutive games this season, but they're starting to get tangible results from their improved, consistent play. After this overtime win, they have picked up points in three straight games (1-0-2) after overtime losses vs. Dallas and at the United Center in Chicago. With a heavy dose of home games on tap, there's an opportunity to get on a little roll and make some noise.