BLUE JACKETS 4 | RED WINGS 1
The Blue Jackets don't like to lean on Sergei Bobrovsky as much as they do at times, but they needed him tonight in the first period against the Red Wings.
FINAL: JACKETS 4 | RED WINGS 1
A huge game in the playoff race, both teams dead even with 71 points and less than 20 games to go, this one held added significance in the big picture. Detroit was all over Columbus early, out-shooting the Jackets by an 18-8 margin in the first period and forcing Bobrovsky to be excellent. Thankfully for the Blue Jackets, he was just that.
Bobrovsky finished with 39 saves in a 4-1 victory for the Blue Jackets in a game with significant playoff implications, and he bailed his teammates out after a sluggish start.
Early penalty trouble got the Jackets out of their four-line rhythm but they found a renewed energy in the second period, and they came out playing an ornery game that forced the Red Wings to retreat and commit turnovers. This was a 1-1 hockey game - a spirited one at that - entering the third period, and with the game in the balance, the Blue Jackets slammed their foot down on the accelerator.
Boone Jenner gave the Jackets a 2-1 lead with a sneaky top-shelf wrister after he walked off the goal line, beating Petr Mrazek (who was a late replacement for the ill Jimmy Howard) over the glove side at 10:08 of the third period. The goal came shortly after a clutch penalty kill by the Blue Jackets, and it ignited a crowd that was begging for something to scream about.
Less than a minute later, it got even louder.
Matt Calvert shrugged off Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson as he crossed the Detroit line, and one-handed a pass to Brandon Dubinsky who finished the play off, making it 3-1 Columbus just 40 seconds after the Jenner goal. The Jackets, line by line, continued to pour over the boards and relentlessly hunt down pucks. It made for a long final five minutes for the Red Wings, and a steeper climb after Derek MacKenzie scored with 4:12 to play.
With the victory, the Blue Jackets (73 points) climbed into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division, even with Philadelphia in points but ahead based on tiebreakers.
Todd Richards liked the way his team was playing early in the third period but they were unable to cash in any chances. Jenner's goal was something created out of nothing (unassisted, too) and it sent a jolt through the building, one that got the Jackets going at a big time in the game.
1. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
His best work was in the first period, when it could have been "4 or 5-1" in the words of James Wisniewski, and it set the tone for the rest of the game. When the Jackets needed their goaltender, he was there, and "Bob" made several big stops tonight.
2. NICK FOLIGNO (CBJ)
Foligno has fit in well with whoever he's played with, and he was great tonight on a spark plug line with Johansen and Jenner line. He scored a highlight-reel goal (he's got a habit of that) in the first period, tying the game while on his back and facing away from the play.
3. BOONE JENNER (CBJ)
Make it 12 goals for the rookie forward, but even more impressive is that it was his fourth game-winner of the season, which is second-most among all rookies in the NHL.
VS. SAN JOSE SHARKS
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.