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Aftermath: Attitude in Altitude

by Brian McCormack / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets bounced back from their loss in Arizona with a plucky effort against the Colorado Avalanche, a back-and-forth affair capped off by David Savard’s goal at 18:59 of the third period to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 win.

It wasn’t perfect, with the Jackets surrendering the lead twice in the second period. Yet the Blue Jackets penalty kill rebounded from its Saturday night struggles to stand tall in the third period and the Jackets got some important contributions on the offensive end.

Savard had about as rough a start to the night as one could imagine. He committed a big-time turnover on the opening goal, and by the end of the second period, Savard was a -3. Gabriel Landeskog squeezed past Savard along the boards before moving in on goal to beat McElhinney and tie the game at 2-2. Cody McLeod tied the game at 3-3 10 minutes later, wrapping the puck on goal from behind the net, off Savard, and in behind McElhinney.

Savard has been one of the Blue Jackets’ steadiest performers, so it’s no surprise that on a night when things just weren’t going his way, he would still find a way to contribute when it mattered most. With just over a minute remaining in a tie game, Scott Hartnell raced down a loose puck in the Avalanche zone, fought off Erik Johnson to get it to Nick Foligno, and then Foligno got it out to the point for a slapper from Savard. The shot deflected off Borna Rendulic and past Semyon Varlamov.

The Blue Jackets have gotten scoring contributions from their defense in recent weeks, including two assists last night from Cody Goloubef in his first game since Nov. 1. But for the Jackets to truly make a run at the post season, they'll need some of their big names up front to find the back of the net. Ryan Johansen tallied for the third straight game, and Brandon Dubinsky added his first two goals of the season, the first of which was the 100th of his NHL career.

Dubinsky had gone 10 games without a goal since making his return from abdominal surgery, but he was still impacting the offense. Dubinsky had five assists in three games coming into Sunday’s tilt, but the Jackets needed one of their top leaders to provide a bit more, and he did just that in a big win for his team.

McElhinney now has wins in two straight starts, having also beaten the Bruins on Dec. 27. Those two appearances represent McElhinney’s only two starts since Nov. 29 (he’s had two relief appearances), and he’s been rock solid in both.

McElhinney stopped 26 shots in the win in Denver, but made some key saves to preserve the win. His best may have come in the second period, when Iginla fired at a wide open net with McElhinney caught on the other side of the crease.

McElhinney dove across and, with the paddle of his stick, was able to bat the puck away from the net. With 2:30 left in regulation, McElhinney made another sharp angled stop on Maxime Talbot, flying down the left wing with Nathan MacKinnon driving the far post. In short, McElhinney gave the Jackets the ideal start that any team would want from its backup goaltender.

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