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Aftermath No. 28: Phoenix

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

This is a fun little run now, isn't it? My goodness. 

Not much else you can say after another dynamite performance from the guy who wears No. 72 and seemingly stops every puck headed in his direction. Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves tonight to equal a season high, turned away both Coyotes' attempts in the shootout, and helped the Blue Jackets pick up a monster victory tonight on home ice in the third game of a five-game home stand.

What we have here is a playoff race, friends.

As for regulation and overtime tonight, you could call it a chess match or you could call it rather uneventful, but the latter would be wrong. These were two teams playing desperate hockey and needed the points to keep pace in the Western Conference, and not surprisingly, they ended up playing yet another one-goal game. That's nine of the last 10  for the Blue Jackets to go beyond regulation and tonight was their fourth consecutive shootout.

Jack Johnson quipped post-game: "It's like a 52-game schedule with all these overtime games." Yeah, that's about accurate.

The Blue Jackets got a big effort from the full group tonight, as well, playing a sharp game inside their own end and not giving the Coyotes second and third chances due to turnovers and careless mistakes. They were on their game tonight, and obviously, so was their goaltender.

Let's break it down.

1. BOBROVSKY: All-caps is fitting because of the guy's play lately. How often do fans find themselves shouting that familiar Jay Onrait line whenever "Goalie Bob" comes up with another masterful save? It seems like they're coming often these days and it's a blast to watch. He's seeing the pucks, reading plays and playing at a level that allows the rest of the group to relax and focus on their game. How about these stats from his past week? His GAA is 0.62, save percentage is .982 with one shutout in three appearances -- might we see an encore for the NHL No. 1 star of the week?

2. TEAM EFFORT: Each of the guys up and down the Blue Jackets bench is dug in right now, and you can tell by their desperation and sacrifice -- which is exactly what Todd Richards pointed out post-game. Their "care" and "compete" for doing things the right way is sky-high and as a result, they're not giving up much on the defensive side of the puck and making teams earn everything. It's no coincidence when word spreads around the NHL about who the hardest-working team is. It might just be the one here in Columbus.

3. FOURTH LINE, STICK TAP: These guys haven't received enough credit for the energy they put forth each night. Tonight it was Jared Boll dropping the mitts with Paul Bissonnette - who like Boll, is always a willing combatant - and putting a jolt of energy through the building and his bench. It was a heck of a fight, too, with boys guys landing some solid blows and Bissonnette's jersey looking like it was put through a chainsaw spin cycle. Colton Gillies, Derek MacKenzie and Nick Drazenovic before he returned to Springfield -- all these guys have done well to establish presence in the opponents' end and bring the physical element for Columbus.

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