BLUE JACKETS (7-12-4) 4, OILERS (8-9-5) 3 -- SHOOTOUT
NATIONWIDE ARENA | COLUMBUS, OH
When Magnus Paajarvi scored the go-ahead goal 31 seconds into the second period, Todd Richards felt there was no time like the present to make a change.
He simply said "we needed a save" on the Oilers' second and third goals from Steve Mason, who was lifted for Sergei Bobrovsky after 20:31 of action tonight. But the move worked out in the Blue Jackets' favor, as Bobrovsky was magnificent down the stretch for Columbus, which has now won back-to-back games for the first time all season after a 4-3 shootout win in front of 14,952 at Nationwide Arena.
Bobrovsky went 21-for-21 in regulation and overtime, but perhaps did his finest work in the extra session. Nick Foligno was called for closing his hand on the puck just 25 seconds into overtime, putting the Oilers on a dangerous 4-on-3 power play opportunity. In those situations, anything can happen, and it can be a tall task to defend -- especially against a highly-skilled club like Edmonton, but Bobrovsky stood tall.
He slid post-to-post to make a highlight-reel pad stop on Jordan Eberle, who had a wide-open net for the game-winner, and then made another prime save on Eberle seconds later which allowed the Blue Jackets to clear the zone. It was the crescendo of a wild, back-and-forth game that never really had one specific turning point, but a series of shifts in momentum that both sides tried to capitalize on.
Derek MacKenzie, Vinny Prospal and Jack Johnson scored in regulation for the Blue Jackets, who never seemed to waver when the Oilers jumped out to leads early in the first and second periods. MacKenzie's goal was a nice re-direct of a Jared Boll shot-pass at 7:54 of the opening period, and Prospal deposited a Ryan Johansen feed on the power play to give Columbus a 2-1 lead minutes later.
Johnson's second goal of the year tied things up 3-3 at 10:44 of the second period, and from that point, the Blue Jackets seemed to take control of the game.
Bobrovsky was 2-for-2 in the shootout and make a blocker save on Sam Gagner, followed by a pad save on Ales Hemsky to give Letestu the opportunity to seal it in the third round. Using the same move he scored on twice last season, Letestu went high-glove on Devan Dubnyk to secure two points for the Blue Jackets.
As was just mentioned, momentum was almost non-existent tonight -- but Bobrovsky gave the Blue Jackets a huge lift with the two saves on Eberle in overtime. Anisimov and Letestu both said that sequence was a huge "pump-up" moment for the Blue Jackets' bench, and gave them a little added fuel to close out the penalty kill and win the game in the shootout.
- Johnson was a horse in his first game back, logging a game-high 26:53 and firing four shots on goal. His presence on the back end, especially breaking pucks out of the zone, was huge for Columbus tonight and helped nullify the Oilers' attack.
- Though it was in relief, this may have been one of Bobrovsky's strongest performances to date. He made every save, and left the scoring up to his teammates in the shootout after denying Gagner and Hemsky.
- RJ Umberger played 20:53 in the game and fired a game-high eight (8) shots on goal - season-high for the Blue Jackets.
- Matt Calvert played just 3:56 after being ejected in the first period following a scrap with Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry. Calvert didn't have his jersey tied down (a no-no in the NHL), which led to an automatic disqualification.
- Prospal was the game's No. 1 star and deservedly so: the 38-year-old picked up a goal and an assist, had four shots on goal, and played with his typical youthful energy. His goal was his ninth of the season, tops among all Blue Jackets, giving him goals in three straight games.
vs. Vancouver Canucks
Thursday, 7 p.m..