POST GAME: Blue Jackets 2, Ducks 1 (OT)
Mark Letestu tallies the GWG in sudden death as Columbus takes over eighth place in the West
BLUE JACKETS (15-14-7) 2, DUCKS (23-7-5) 1 - OT
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OH
This tweet was so perfect and fit the occasion with such aplomb, I have to borrow it from Jeff Little (@JeffLittleTHW): "#CBJ are amazing amalgamation of skill, tenacity & character."
Couldn't have said it better myself, actually. But let's try to further explain what was a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena, a victory that carried two points which vaulted the Blue Jackets into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference standings with 12 games to play. Yes, you read that correctly: thanks to a 10-2-4 record in the month of March, the Blue Jackets have placed themselves in the postseason conversation - and they're not prepared to stop their ascent.
On this night, the home team came out with some jump in the first period and shook off the rush following a four-game, seven-day road trip that started in Nashville and ended with a win in Calgary on Friday night. The old hockey adage is that the first game back home after a long trip is difficult to play - and until the third period, the Blue Jackets did well to dispel the notion.
Derick Brassard opened the scoring at 9:34 of the second period when line mate Mark Letestu (we'll talk about him very shortly) fired the puck off the end boards, and Brassard was camped at the side of the net to chop it past Jonas Hiller. Through 40 minutes of play, the Jackets led 13-12 in shots but the Ducks put their work boots on in the third period.
Anaheim out-shot Columbus 17-1 in the third period and got the tying goal from Emerson Etem at 5:55 of the third period, capitalizing on a defensive-zone turnover by the Blue Jackets. It was nervy at times, but the Jackets held on down the stretch and forced overtime - where they have become quite comfortable lately - and got another magical finish courtesy of their go-to guy in the clutch.
Letestu received a cross-ice pass from Nikita Nikitin with just over a minute left in sudden death, and he snapped a quick wrister that eluded Hiller and gave Columbus its 10th win of the month.
It was somewhat hard to believe that, as dangerous as things looked late in the third period with the Ducks' top line buzzing, the Blue Jackets escaped unharmed. They were smart with their clears, efficient with their breakouts and got some huge stops from Bobrovsky along the way. The resolve they showed with the tanks "on fumes," as coach Todd Richards said, was the turning point of this game.
- The Blue Jackets have extended their franchise-record home ice point streak to 12 games (9-0-3) and have moved into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference standings with 37 points.
- Brassard's goal in the second period put him in sole possession of fifth place on Columbus’ all-time points list (58-111-169), moving past LW Geoff Sanderson (88-80-168). Brassard also moved into a tie with LW Kristian Huselius for eighth place on the team’s all-time goals list (58) and seized sole possession of sixth place in career PPG (20) on the play.
- Bobrovsky made 29 saves in Sunday’s overtime win and is now 9-2-5 (1.74 GAA, .943 SV%) at Nationwide Arena this season.
- Letestu has now tallied 2-2-4 in his last two games.
at Nashville Predators
Thursday, 8 p.m.
Bridgestone Arena | Nashville, TN