BLUE JACKETS 3 | BLACKHAWKS 2
Sergei Bobrovsky didn't have his best stuff against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
Tonight was no such night.
After receiving bad news in the morning regarding Boone Jenner’s projected 1-2 month absence, the red-hot Blue Jackets (now 8-0-1 in December) were set to face a Chicago Blackhawks team that seems to be hitting stride and playing its best hockey of the season, winning 13 of 15 coming in. They also got No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford back for tonight’s game, and his welcome back present was a nine-round shootout in a terrific atmosphere at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets never trailed, holding leads of 1-0 and 2-1 but yielding a pair of tying goals, the second coming at 8:49 of the third period on a play that needed a lengthy review from the NHL’s Situation Room. Long story short: the on-ice call of “no goal” was reversed, the game was tied 2-2 headed down the stretch, and two teams on top of their games did not disappoint.
Bobrovsky made 39 saves in regulation and overtime and went 8-for-9 (yes, that’s real) in the shootout to lock up the Blue Jackets’ eighth win in nine tries to begin December, a 3-2 decision in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,164.
Jack Johnson scored the game-winning goal in the ninth round, dekeing Crawford to his forehand before sliding the puck inside the post, leaving it up to Bobrovsky to deny Bryan Bickell - and he did just that. Bickell came in with speed and tried a quick shot between the pads, but Bobrovsky sealed up the five-hole to earn the extra point for Columbus.
“It’s a huge two points for us,” coach Todd Richards said.
“We’re a resilient team,” said defenseman Kevin Connauton. "We've shown that we can play with the top teams in the league."
They were nervy moments in the third period, when the Blackhawks power play was given opportunities to take the lead at both 12:11 and 17:22, but the Blue Jackets’ penalty kill and Bobrovsky were terrific when needed.
Jack Skille (fifth of the season) and Connauton (what an impact he’s made) scored regulation goals for Columbus, which may have been understaffed but not under-willed and seemed determined to get both points and continue climbing.
In a 2-2 game featuring a lopsided shot count and no shortage of chances for the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets called upon their penalty kill to get them out of trouble and into overtime. With active sticks, battling at the net-front and getting clears when needed, they escaped and did so thanks to a few key stops from their goaltender, as well.
“You could see the desperation, the battles in front of the net,” Richards said.
vs. Nashville Predators
Monday, 7 p.m. ET