BLUE JACKETS (20-16-7) 4, AVALANCHE (14-22-7) 3 -- OVERTIME
PEPSI CENTER | DENVER, CO
Just when it looked like they would leave the Pepsi Center empty-handed, the Blue Jackets bounced back and stole two points from the Colorado Avalanche - and it's not a stretch to call it their biggest win of the season.
For the second consecutive game, Columbus found itself in a penalty-killing situation late in the third period and once again it came back to bite them - but only in the short term. Stefan Elliot capitalized on a Nikita Nikitin hooking penalty to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead late in regulation, but as RJ Umberger said post-game, there wasn't a flash of panic on the Blue Jackets bench. On their very next shift, Umberger received a perfect pass from Ryan Johansen and backhanded the tying goal through the pads of J.S. Giguere, securing a massive extra point for Columbus in its pursuit of the playoffs.
But they were far from done.
After seeing their only power play chance of the game evaporate in the third period/start of overtime, the Blue Jackets were undeterred. Much like they've done time and again throughout this season, they poured it all on the ice and got a big play from their most consistent line of the night: Fedor Tyutin made a great play at this own blue line to get the puck ahead to Nick Foligno, who broke in on a 2-on-1 with Umberger as overtime dwindled away.
Foligno snapped a wrister through Giguere with 28 seconds left in overtime to lock down a huge win, pulling the Jackets even in points with eighth-place Detroit (47 points). Sergei Bobrovsky was masterful once again, making 29 saves - several of game-breaking fashion - to both keep the Jackets in the battle and stave off an Avalanche club that kept pushing the pace.
Todd Richards said after the game that it's all about finding ways to win this time of year, and the past two nights, they've done exactly that. Tonight marked their fourth consecutive win and second straight to begin a six-game road trip that continues in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
There was a lot of ebb and flow in this game, but as he's done so often during this playoff run, Bobrovsky gave the Jackets both a sigh of relief and a kick in the pants with one massive save in overtime. As their power play wound down, Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog beat Marian Gaborik to the puck at the blue line and had a clear-cut breakaway - but Bobrovsky read it perfectly and slammed the door with his biggest save of the night and perhaps biggest of the year. Not long after, Foligno sealed the deal with his overtime winner.
- It was only a matter of time before the Umberger-Johansen-Foligno line got rewarded, and boy, did they ever cash in at the right time. Umberger's goal might be his biggest in a Blue Jackets uniform (and a beauty pass from Johansen made it happen), and Foligno finally broke out of a goal-scoring skid with the OT winner.
- Adrian Aucoin wasn't seen on the ice or the Blue Jackets bench in the third period and there was no update immediately available. Columbus played the third period and overtime with only five defensemen but found a way to get the job done.
- Big night for Mark Letestu, now anchoring the Prospal-Gaborik duo with Anisimov out: he played 17:35 and fired a game-high five shots on goal, and scored a crucial tying goal in the second period to pull the Jackets even headed into the third period.
- On the day he was named the NHL's No. 1 star of the week, Bobrovsky was the top cop once again. The OT save on Landeskog as well as a handful of others in regulation time came at critical moments and, as Umberger told NHL Network post-game, he's been their backbone all season long.
at Anaheim Ducks
Wednesday, 10 p.m.
Honda Center | Anaheim, Calif.