BLUE JACKETS (19-16-7) 3, WILD (22-16-3) 2 -- SHOOTOUT
XCEL ENERGY CENTER | ST. PAUL, MN
Jack Johnson wasn't shy about it after the game: sometimes, you have to win games you probably shouldn't have in order to stay in the race. The Blue Jackets, on the shoulders of their rock-solid goaltender, weathered a late storm from the Minnesota Wild and picked up a huge shootout win at the Xcel Energy Center.
It wasn't nearly as physical as Friday night's win over St. Louis, but the Blue Jackets and Wild slugged it out for 65 minutes of regulation and overtime and there were some testy moments along the way. Charlie Coyle was ejected 17 seconds into the game after targeting the head of Artem Anisimov (who did not return) with a high hit, and in the waning minutes of regulation, Dalton Prout was whistled for a cross-checking penalty that put Minnesota on a power play it used to tie the game.
But most impressive about the Blue Jackets tonight was their resolve: they lost Anisimov and Dubinsky for stretches of the game (Dubinsky recieved 17 penalty minutes for standing up for the Anisimov hit) and had to use some makeshift lines, kill penalties at key junctures of the game and stave off a Wild team that was throwing the kitchen sink at Bobrovsky. Two quick strikes from Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin in the second period turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead entering the third period, and for the vast majority of the final frame, the Blue Jackets did exactly what they wanted to do.
Their only mistake was the Prout penalty that saw Jason Pominville tie things up, but rather than let it get to them, the Jackets shook it off and had the better opportunities in overtime. The shootout was a combination of two strong stops by Bobrovsky on Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, and a pair of beautiful goals from Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson, who made sure the skills competition was a brief one tonight.
With the victory, the Blue Jackets (45 points) pulled into a three-way points tie for eighth place in the Western Conference alongside Dallas and Detroit.
On the second night of back-to-backs, the Blue Jackets wanted to make sure their energy level sustained throughout what was bound to be an intense, physical game tonight. Coyle's hit on Anisimov got everyone fired up, and the emotions were fueled further when Jared Boll laid a beating on Clayton Stoner later in the first period during a spirited scrap. Todd Richards has talked about this group not needing an invitation to stick up for one another, and it was a big reason why they stayed the course and finished the job tonight.
- Big night for Dubinsky: played 18:48 (while missing most of the first period), two assists, +2 and 53 percent in the face-off circle. The guy is an instant impact player for the Blue Jackets and makes them a more balanced team down the middle.
- Bobrovsky, what else can you say? Richards called it "The Bob Show" in his post-game scrum and it's hard to argue. Bobrovsky was strong in all three periods and overtime, and saved two more special stops for the shootout on two pretty dangerous players in Parise and Koivu. Like his teammates, he did all that on the tail end of back-to-back nights.
- Gaborik was all over the ice tonight and had a couple of great looks at Backstrom but couldn't convert. He played 21:10 and had three shots on goal, and nearly got the Jackets' third goal off a nifty pass from Prospal in the third period.
- Johnson led all Blue Jackets in TOI (28:55) and was a sturdy force on the back end tonight, playing in all situations and helping get the puck out of danger. He and Tyutin have formed a solid No. 1 pairing for the Jackets in the past month.
at Colorado Avalanche
Pepsi Center | Denver, CO
Monday, 9 p.m.