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BLUE JACKETS (6-12-4) 2, AVALANCHE (8-8-4) 1 -- OVERTIME
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OH
Artem Anisimov raised his arms in jubilation, but there may have been a little bit of relief mixed in.
Finally, the Blue Jackets had bested their nemesis: the one-goal game. And they did so with one of their most complete efforts of the season, beating the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in front of 13,778 at Nationwide Arena, a crowd that saw an entertaining finish to a highly-competitive hockey game.
Anisimov snapped the game-winner at 2:26 of overtime past the glove hand of Semyon Varlamov - his sixth goal of the season - with RJ Umberger providing a heavy screen in front of the net. For as often as the Blue Jackets' power play has struggled in the first 22 games, it was the difference-maker in today's game and provided both the equalizer and the deciding tally. The Blue Jackets had two 5-on-3 opportunities, as well, failing to convert on the first try but tying the game early in the third period on Vinny Prospal's team-leading eighth of the year.
And though the Blue Jackets would prefer not to have to rally for points and wins as much as they have, as Umberger said post-game, they managed to get the job done by sticking to their game plan. Against a Colorado team that likes to play off the rush and generate chances using its speed, the Blue Jackets shut them down and played most of the game in the offensive zone.
They out-shot the Avalanche 34-19 overall and 16-5 in the third period when making their strongest push, and responded well to PA Parenteau's goal which opened the scoring.
It was definitely a weird one, and a shot that Sergei Bobrovsky never got a good look at. Parenteau, in the high slot, took a half-slapper that looked like a flubbed chip from the fringe and it fluttered over Bobrovsky's shoulder with Matt Duchene standing in front. The goal was Parenteau's ninth of the season at 12:35 of the second period, and despite falling behind, the Blue Jackets stayed on course.
Prospal's 5-on-3 goal deflected off Ryan O'Reilly's stick in behind Varlamov at 4:04 of the third period, and that was when Columbus really got its engine going in the final 20 minutes. They threw everything at Varlamov and came close on a few occasions - and it was hustle by Umberger that drew the penalty (on Parenteau) in overtime, leading to Anisimov's winner.
The Blue Jackets lost another defenseman in tonight's game with Nikita Nikitin's upper body injury in the second period, but perhaps the turning point was what happened because of it. Patrick Bordeleau laid a hard hit on Nikitin late in the second period and Nikitin left the game immediately, and at the very next face-off, Jared Boll dropped the mitts with Bordeleau in a spirited scrap. Regardless of the fight's outcome, the Blue Jackets played with a ton of energy and didn't seem to look back after it.
- Johansen's line tonight: 19:07 TOI, won 12-of-18 face-offs and played a physical, engaging game centering Umberger and Foligno. He's played well the past few games since his recall and tonight might have been his strongest to date.
- Tim Erixon continues his solid play as the Blue Jackets defense gets thinner with injuries. He played nearly 25 minutes tonight (24:38), had the primary assist on Anisimov's game winner, and fired four shots on goal.
- Bobrovsky was not the busier of the two goaltenders but he made the saves needed to give the Blue Jackets a chance to get back in the game. He finished with 18 saves, was tidy with his rebounds and kept things calm while his teammates spent a lot of time at the other end of the ice.
- Fedor Tyutin stepped up big time with Nikitin out, playing 29:10 in all situations and picking up an assist on the Prospal goal.
vs. Edmonton Oilers
Tuesday, 7 p.m.