GAME DAY ON THE ROAD presented by:
Three years, two months and 10 days ago, Curtis Sanford posted his last shutout in the National Hockey League by blanking the Ottawa Senators. After 31 saves and a No. 1 star performance on Saturday at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, the next “donut” was much, much sweeter.
Columbus scored the game’s only goal in the second period and used a superb effort from its penalty killers to hold off a surging Kings squad by a 1-0 final. The loss was the first in regulation for the Kings under new head coach Darryl Sutter, and the first win after a two-game skid by the Blue Jackets.
It was a slow start to this afternoon tilt for both teams, and the old hockey adage that states “the first to team wake up wins” was evident throughout the contest. Columbus was out-shot 14-4 in the third period and 31-18 overall, but Grant Clitsome’s fourth goal of the season stood tall as the eventual game-winner. As a Blue Jackets power play wound down, Derick Brassard made a deft backhand pass across the slot to Clitsome, who pinched in from his point position and one-timed a shot over the shoulder of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
But this game, in the end, belonged to the Sandman.
With Sammy Pahlsson in the box for a double-minor to start the third period, the Kings poured the pressure on and fired pucks from everywhere. The Blue Jackets had nearly killed off the entire four-minute penalty, but when Marc Methot took a slashing penalty at 3:23 of the final period, the Kings had a 38 second 5-on-3 and threw the kitchen sink at Sanford. He made some of his best stops during those four minutes and it lifted the Blue Jackets down the stretch – including a sliding stop on Colin Fraser that left the Kings forward stunned, looking to the skies.
The final minutes were drama-filled, too. Clitsome was called for delay of game (puck over glass) with under 90 seconds to play, and Sutter pulled Quick for a sixth attacker. With another two-man advantage on Los Angeles’ side, the Blue Jackets penalty kill came up huge once again and secured the victory.
The Kings came out of the locker room for the third period with one thing on their mind: capitalizing on the extended power play and turning the momentum of the game. Columbus’ forwards and defensemen blocked a bevy of shots and let Sanford see the shots before boxing out second chances. Even without their best penalty killing forward (Pahlsson), the Blue Jackets got the job done and prevented any turn of the tide in the Kings’ favor.
Columbus snapped a brief two-game skid with today’s shutout victory. It was the first shutout for the Blue Jackets this season and the first of Sanford’s Blue Jackets career. The club improved its record to 19-20-3 all-time against the Kings, with a 8-12-1 mark at STAPLES Center.
Clitsome picked up the first game-winning goal of his NHL career with his fourth of the year in the second period. It was his first goal in 22 games, as he last lit the lamp on Nov. 10 vs. the Blackhawks. Clitsome leads all Blue Jackets defensemen in goals (four), and has played 20-plus minutes in four of the last five games including 22:09 tonight.
Brassard picked up his first assist in five games with a helper on Clitsome’s goal. He last had an assist Dec. 22 at Nashville. He has collected 2-5-7 the last 12 games after being held to 0-1-1 the previous 12 games and 2-2-4 the first 20 games of the season.
The Blue Jackets killed off all eight Kings’ power play opportunities and are now 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) on the penalty kill the last four games after killing of only 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) the previous three games.
vs. Anahiem Ducks
Honda Center | Anaheim, Calif.
Sunday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan FM & BlueJackets.com