Sergei Bobrovsky is usually a cool customer whether it’s a 3-0 win or a 5-1 loss, but there was something different about Thursday night’s win in Philadelphia.
Did the Blue Jackets desperately need the points in a hostile environment with the regular season schedule winding down? Absolutely. And that was just the beginning.
But not only did they get it done in a place they’d never won before in franchise history (five losses and a tie previously), they did so on the shoulders of a goaltender who once called Wells Fargo Center home.
On the one-year anniversary of former Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason joining the Flyers via trade from Columbus, it was the other goaltender who traded places that stole the show in a huge game for both teams.
Bobrovsky recorded his fourth shutout of the season in commanding style, making 37 saves to spearhead a much-needed Jackets victory that pulled them within two points of the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
“His compete level, his focus level…that’s what makes him one of the best in the game,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “He prepares every night (to perform) like that and he did tonight.”
Having already faced his former team once this season - a 5-2 victory back on Jan. 23 in which he made 26 saves - Bobrovsky wasn’t as anxious entering this game, but he admitted there was an added level of satisfaction after picking up the win.
And in a move that says a lot about the type of person he is, Bobrovsky came back out as the No. 2 star of the game (something rarely, if ever, seen by visiting players) and saluted the Philadelphia fans with a round of applause. The Flyers fans who remained at Wells Fargo Center reciprocated with a hand of their own, symbolic of a relationship forged years ago that Bobrovsky still reflects fondly upon to this day.
Speaking of this day, it belonged to the guy affectionately known as “Bob.” The victory was his 28th of the season, equaling a previous career-high he set with the Flyers in 2010-11, and the clean sheet was the eighth of his young career.
Bobrovsky was called upon early as the Flyers tried to dictate their game, making 10 saves in the opening period but he was even better in the second. When the Blue Jackets got away from their game and started turning the puck over (which resulted in Flyers power plays), Bobrovsky was there to shut the door and keep his team in the battle.
In the Blue Jackets’ biggest game of the season - against his former team, no less - Bob was Bob.
“It’s great for him,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said of Bobrovsky’s performance. “You want to see good players, good guys do well, and you pull for them. Bob is that guy. With him, it’s always about the team and it’s never about him.
“To come into this building, in a really big hockey game and come in and shut these guys out says a lot about Bob. You can ask everybody in that room…everybody’s really happy for him.”