BLUE JACKETS 3 | HURRICANES 2 (OT)
Trail once, trail twice, deal with adversity in the third period and prevail in overtime? It was no Picasso for the Blue Jackets, but right now, they'd take two points if it was a watercolor from a third-grader.
FINAL (OT): JACKETS 3 | CANES 2
They did not have their best stuff out of the gate tonight at PNC Arena, less than 24 hours removed from a high-emotion, physical game against the Pittsburgh Penguins but they got a tremendous effort in net from Curtis McElhinney, also playing his second game in as many nights. With Sergei Bobrovsky still recovering from an illness, McElhinney's number was called once again, and in the heat of a playoff race, he was rock-solid for the Jackets.
After a scoreless and largely uneventful 36-plus minutes of action, the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes traded goals late in the second period to head into the third all square at 1-1. Jeff Skinner opened the scoring on a broken play in front of the Columbus net, but Matt Calvert scored his ninth of the season late in the period as the Jackets finally solved Anton Khudobin - approximately their 322nd shot against him in the last two games (slight exaggeration).
Carolina scored a power play goal early in the third period to pull ahead 2-1, but Nathan Horton and Artem Anisimov teamed up to get the goal right back. Horton drove the net and put the puck into Khudobin's feet, and Anisimov was waiting at the back post to deposit the rebound.
It was on to overtime, and the Hurricanes gave the Jackets their first and only power play of the game when Jiri Tlusty closed his hand on the puck at the side of the net. A big chance for the Blue Jackets to escape Raleigh with two points resulted in yet another big goal from their go-to guy in the clutch.
Anisimov made a great play along the wall to fight off a check and hit Johansen in the slot with a perfect pass, and Johansen ripped his 30th goal of the season off Khudobin's glove and in to secure a valuable second point for the Jackets.
"We didn't start the game great," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Once we settled in, I think we were a little bit better. It's a credit to the guys; under tough circumstances, coming in here after an emotional game, I thought the will, want and compete was there tonight."
"A lead is never safe when both of these teams are on the ice," Johansen said. "We found a way to claw back, get a couple of big goals and it's definitely a good feeling heading back to Columbus with the win."
As mentioned above, the Blue Jackets never led in this game until the very end, but they came up big on special teams in the third period. Carolina had three straight power plays after neither side had a power play in the first two periods, and while they scored on one, the Jackets recorded book end penalty kills to give them a boost headed down the stretch.
1. RYAN JOHANSEN (CBJ)
The last three Jackets road victories - Minnesota, Montreal, and now Carolina - have all come from the stick of the 21-year-old center who's gotten better as the games get bigger.
2. ARTEM ANISIMOV (CBJ)
Anisimov's 20th of the season - extending his career-high mark - tied the game in the third period, a small sample of a dominant game from No. 42 tonight.
3. CURTIS MCELHINNEY (CBJ)
With Bobrovsky's illness, the Jackets have needed McElhinney to rise the occasion and he's done just that. He made 25 saves tonight and was very good early.
VS. COLORADO AVALANCHE
TUESDAY, 7 P.M.