Aftermath No. 42: Minnesota
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. Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin scored two quick goals in the second period to give Columbus the lead heading into the third period, and after flirting with penalty trouble earlier in the game, it finally caught up to the Jackets when Jason Pominville tied it up with 3:59 to go.
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.
Let's break it down.
1) TOP COP: At this rate, we're going to have to call him "Robert." Bobrovsky's 39 saves and .951 save percentage tonight were impressive enough, but the timeliness of his saves was exactly what teams look for from their No. 1 goaltender. Bobrovsky came up big on Parise and Koivu in the third period to keep the Blue Jackets ahead and quickly shook off the tying goal to put up the fort in the shootout. It was Bobrovsky's 16th win of the year.
2) DIGGING DEEP: Back-to-back games are never easy and they're more problematic from an energy standpoint given the compacted schedule, but the Jackets have found a way to sweep two sets of back-to-backs this season alone. They did that just once in 82 games a year ago (Mar. 30-31 vs. Florida and St. Louis), and tonight's win was nothing short of gutsy. The Wild brought it from the start and in the third period, but Columbus' "bend slightly but don't break" mentality was a big factor in the outcome.
3) MOMENTUM: The last thing the Jackets could have happen was to pick up two wins on home ice over San Jose and St. Louis only to go on the road and lose steam - and that's why the winning result was so huge for them in Minnesota. By picking up two points and climbing further up the standings, they kept the ball rolling and kept the good vibes around for another day, and the next stop - and most important game - is at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Monday night.