POST GAME ON THE ROAD presented by:
Three years had passed since the Blue Jackets’ last victory inside the Pepsi Center, but that wasn’t even the biggest storyline of the game. Steve Mason bounced back after a disappointing effort less than a week ago against the Colorado Avalanche, and turned in a brilliant 32-save performance to earn his first shutout of the season.
The Blue Jackets delivered a crushing hit to the Avalanche’s playoff hopes in a 2-0 win before a crowd of 13,236 in Denver. Colorado’s four-game winning streak was snapped in the process and the Blue Jackets played one of their best defensive games of the season, shutting down the Avalanche’s red-hot second line. Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Steve Downie – three of the club’s leading scorers – were held off the scoresheet and combined for a -3 in the Columbus win.
Todd Richards had been waiting for his second line to produce offense (especially on the road), and they got a boost tonight from Vinny Prospal and a couple of defensemen. The 36-year-old Prospal picked up a pair of assists and made a couple savvy plays to set up both Blue Jacket tallies. Nikita Nikitin’s one-time rocket from the right point beat Semyon Varlamov over the shoulder for a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period, yet another power-play marker for Columbus.
Fedor Tyutin gave the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead late in the second period with his fifth goal of the season. Derick Brassard intercepted the puck at the offensive blue line and nudged it along to Vinny Prospal at the center point. Prospal found Tyutin creeping down the left side, and he let a shot go from 40 feet that beat Varlamov cleanly inside the near post at 15:11 of the period.
Columbus shut down a late third-period power play for the Avalanche with Varlamov on the bench for an extra attacker, but they could not convert with a 6-on-4 advantage.
Mason made a game-changing stop on Jay McClement midway through the third period, but Mason himself said the turning point in the game was Tyutin’s goal. The two-goal buffer was huge for the Blue Jackets, who were excellent at even strength throughout the game, and made a third-period comeback all that more difficult for the Avalanche.
The Blue Jackets are now 3-1-1 in their last five road games after going 0-6-1 their previous seven road games. Columbus has power play goals in 10 of the last 13 games after going 1-for-2 on the power play tonight. The club is 14-for-52 (26.9 percent) the last 13 games after going 4-for-42 (9.5 percent) the previous 17 games.
Nikitin has goals in two of the last six games after scoring his third of the season tonight. He had been held without a goal the previous 20 games. He has points in seven of the last 10 games, registering 2-5-7 during that stretch, after being held to 0-1-1 the previous seven games. He has set career highs in goals, assists, points and games played.
Tyutin snapped a seven-game pointless skid with a goal and an assist tonight. He last had a point when he registered 1-1-2 Feb. 12 vs. Anaheim. He has three multi-point games the last 11 games after being held to one the previous 38 games. In 306 career games with the Blue Jackets, he has collected 26-92-118 compared to 15-52-67 in 251 games with the New York Rangers.
Prospal has points in eight of the last 14 games after recording two assists on the night. He has tallied 2-9-11 during that stretch after being held pointless the previous nine games. He leads the club in assists and ranks second in points. In 20 career games against the Avalanche, he has 4-9-13.
vs. Phoenix Coyotes
Jobing.com Arena | Phoenix, Arizona
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com