Make it five wins in a row for the streaking Blue Jackets, who won their second straight divisional game and their second straight overtime contest.
Like the other games during this December streak, it wasn’t easy. The Blue Jackets were out-shot 41-23 and were shorthanded six times. But with another strong performance by Sergei Bobrovsky and timely scoring from Nick Foligno, the Jackets pulled out another win, their third on the road this month.
Finding a Way
It’s felt like a mantra during this recent stretch of winning hockey, as the Blue Jackets have still not really dominated a contest during the run, although their defensive performance in Tampa Bay did earn high marks. Still, sometimes it doesn’t really matter how the sausage is made.
The Jackets were being out-shot 10-1 at the halfway mark of the first period (all 10 shots coming on the power play) and they only had one shot on goal between the 2:00 mark of the second period and the 0:55 mark of the third -- almost a full period of play. Perhaps that worked to their advantage though, as the relatively inactive Braden Holtby didn’t seem prepared for Foligno’s high-zone wrister, through a screen, that came shortly after the Jackets broke a 12-minute drought without registering a shot.
The Jackets hung in and took advantage of their opportunities when they arose. That includes a Washington penalty in overtime, when Foligno beat Holtby for the second time and earned two points for the Blue Jackets.
Licensed to Kill
Two of the game's best power plays took on two of the game’s lower-ranked penalty kills. Todd Richards wanted his squad to be disciplined and not allow Alex Ovechkin and his power play one-timer to take over the game, but tonight it was the Jackets’ killers that made plays when needed most.
The Capitals did open the scoring with a power play goal 3:19 into the first, but overall, the Jackets did a tremendous job to keep the majority of the Capitals’ chances to the outside and to eliminate the few second-chance opportunities that occurred. Jack Johnson and David Savard earn particularly high marks, with each logging 6:33 and 5:56 of shorthanded ice time, respectively, in addition to their even strength duties that were largely against Ovechkin and Backstrom. The rest of the credit goes to Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky seemed to know what was coming from the Capitals' power play, and was cheating over often to get across from post-to-post to stop Ovechkin’s patented one-timer. Bobrovsky stopped one off the top of his helmet in the second period, followed shortly by a stop on Troy Brouwer right between the circles. It’s a cliché, but sometimes your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer and Bobrovsky certainly was.
The Jackets granted Washington a 5-on-3, a four-minute power play, and another power play at the end of the third period. To survive that against the league’s second-best power play is a tip of the hat to the penalty kill.
The Blue Jackets’ blue line is getting healthy, with Fedor Tyutin skating on Thursday and Cody Goloubef activated off of IR and on the verge of returning. Kevin Connauton must know that reinforcements are on the way, but he is giving the coaching staff some really tough decisions when that time comes.
Connauton scored for the second straight game, again in a big spot as his drive from the right point found its way through traffic and through Holtby to tie the game at 10:59 of the third. Connauton had three shots on the night and also held his own defensively against a strong offensive team. The waiver wire pick-up was expected to have an offensive upside and he’s brought just that to the Jackets’ lineup. This week he’s being rewarded for it, and his confidence seems to be growing.