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Blue Jackets lose Bobrovsky, beat Lightning

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- On a night when all the Columbus Blue Jackets should have been talking about was a brilliant goal by Nick Foligno, an injury to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was foremost on their minds following a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bobrovsky had just made his 18th stop to bring the Nationwide Arena crowd to its feet -- a glove save of a J.T. Brown breakaway while doing the splits -- when he stayed down for about a minute before being helped off the ice 4:13 into the third period.

Columbus coach Todd Richards said Bobrovsky sustained a leg injury and the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner will have an MRI exam Wednesday.

"I don't know if the answer we'll have tomorrow, but definitely in the next few days," he said. "We'll have a better idea."

Curtis McElhinney finished the game and was under siege until the final horn when a shot from near the left post by Valtteri Filppula got past him and hugged the goal line as it went across the crease.

McElhinney made eight saves in relief of Bobrovsky to finish off the shutout.

"To come into a tough situation ... it was a rallying thing for us too," Richards said. "Players take it personally."

McElhinney kept the shutout alive with 6:30 to play when he cut the angle and got his right pad on a shot from the low right circle by Lightning forward Nate Thompson.

Columbus then killed a tripping penalty on Jack Johnson with 4:46 left, allowing one low-risk shot.

"Big power play at the end of the game, and we don't even get it set up. Embarrassing," Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis said.

McElhinney had to come up big with 1:26 left in the third after a turnover enabled Victor Hedman to shove a pass to St. Louis for an unimpeded backhander from the right side. The Columbus goalie made a glove save while falling to the ice.

"Both of their goalies were really good, and when [the Blue Jackets] got the lead, they knew how to sit on it," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "Our urgency for the first 58 minutes was not there."

The Blue Jackets (11-14-3) continued their uneven season and have now alternated wins and losses over the past nine games. They will have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time in 18 games Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

"Today was a good step, but it doesn't guarantee anything on Friday," Richards said. "We have to keep taking steps in the right direction."

Tampa Bay (16-10-1) has lost five straight on the road and is feeling the fallout of losing Steven Stamkos, who was tied for first in the League in goals and points when he broke his leg Nov. 11 at the Boston Bruins.

Tampa Bay is 4-5-1 since that game, and has been blanked in two straight games and three of five.

"Our commitment to go to those areas you need to score is not there, it's just not," Cooper said. "It's unfortunate. We've got a lot of players who have played in this league for a long time, and they've got to take us there."

Foligno injected some energy in the game with his highlight-reel goal at 4:30 of the second period. The sequence started when Ryan Johansen stole the puck and fed an open Foligno in front of the net. As he skated left to right across the goal mouth, Foligno stuck the stick between his legs and flicked a shot past Ben Bishop for his seventh goal.

"It as one of those spur-of-the-moment things you think of," he said. "I'm glad it went in because the guys would have given me a lot of flak if I didn't score that one."

The goal energized the Blue Jackets, who posted a 13-6 shot advantage in the second period, when they nearly doubled their lead.

With less than three minutes left, Johansen and Foligno were at it again as Johansen, after receiving a pass from linemate RJ Umberger, sent a centering pass out of the right corner. Foligno was anchored at the crease for the tip attempt, but Bishop made the save only to leave the rebound sitting just off the goal line.

Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie, a late replacement for injured Eric Brewer, was able to swipe the puck out of harm's way before Foligno had a chance to knock in his second goal.

Before he exited, Bobrovsky, who carried a shutout for nearly 50 minutes in the last home game, a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 29, had little to do. His biggest challenge came in the middle period, when he used his blocker to stop a screamer from St. Louis with six minutes remaining.

"He's been playing great," Foligno said of Bobrovsky. "He made an unbelievable save right before he got hurt. It's so sad to see Bob go down because he prepares himself each and every game. We hope he's OK."

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