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Black-and-blue defensemen lead Blue Jackets' shutout of Caps

Peeke, Savard, Gavrikov key part of rugged effort in crucial victory

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

You could have called the group of Blue Jackets' defensemen the black-and-blue line after Monday night's game vs. Washington. 

A stable already missing Zach Werenski, Markus Nutivaara and Ryan Murray was a little worse for wear after the win over the Caps.  

Andrew Peeke did his postgame interview with blood still trickling out from where he was hit on the mouth with a puck in the first period. Vladislav Gavrikov hurried about, packing his bag after being checked for a concussion thanks to a late hit from Tom Wilson. And David Savard might have needed to ice his hand after immediately throwing haymakers at Wilson in response, though considering Savard is the franchise's career leader in blocked shots, what damage could a couple of punches do? 

Yet John Tortorella didn't seem to mind, at least when it came to Savard's decision to go after Wilson. 

Video: John Tortorella on 3-0 win over the Capitals

"High marks for Savy for standing in there," the Blue Jackets head coach said. "Savy is not known for that. I think when that stuff arises, I think it helps you become closer, and if you heard the locker room after they came in after the game, you'd understand it a little bit better. I thought Savy handled himself really well." 

In a season that to this point has not gone exactly to plan for the Blue Jackets, the last two games have provided a little fight -- and have continued a four-game point streak for the squad.  

Savard's decision to go with Wilson -- just the second fight of his NHL career, with the first coming in March 2015 -- came one game after Josh Anderson challenged Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki after the latter's first-period hit knocked Sonny Milano from Saturday's game. 

To Tortorella, those types of interactions in which teammates stand up for one another can go a long way when it comes to play on the ice, as well. 

"Like I said, you should have heard the room when he walked in," Tortorella said. "Do you know who got the Kepi? Bjorkstrand? Savy could have got one, too. That's a pretty tough kid (in Wilson). Andy did it the other night. 

"That's good for our team. I don't condone anybody trying to hurt someone, but that's part of the game that I think needs to be in it. I think we've lost a little bit of that in the National Hockey League. I'm glad to see a couple of our guys stand in there when they needed to." 

Gavrikov also expressed his appreciation for his fellow bearded defenseman after the game. 

"Oh, yeah," Gavrikov told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. "Of course, I really appreciate it. It's a huge moment for me and the team, too." 

In the case of Peeke, the wounds were not inflicted by another player but a puck. As he glided back on defense early in the game, Peeke put his stick out to deflect a shot by Garnet Hathaway, only to see it pop up right into his mouth. 

Ten to 15 stitches later, he spoke to the media in front of his locker, stopping at one point to remove a piece of unidentified debris from his mouth. His lip was still swollen and some blood remained, but so did all of his teeth. 

"The bottom one came out clean, and they found it in my mouthguard on the ice and they were able to just slide it right back in," he said postgame. "I don't know what they did, but it's locked in right now. I think this top one here is a little chipped. It's halfway out. A bunch of stitches on my lip, so that's fine. 

"Thank God I had a mouthguard on or the top (teeth) would be gone." 

It ended up being a memorable night for Peeke, as well, as he returned to the game in the second period and picked up the first point of his NHL career in his sixth game with the team thanks to an assist on Oliver Bjorkstrand's third-period goal. 

"It's a good feeling," Peeke said. "The best thing about it is we beat one of the best teams in the NHL again, so for us, that's what we needed. Obviously getting a point is a plus for me, but getting those two points (in the standings) is what really counts tonight so I was really happy for that." 

Just don't tell his mother, Mary Ruth, what happened.  

"I don't even want to look at my phone right now," he said. "All the braces money … I don't know if she's going to be thinking about that." 

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