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Blue Jackets rally to beat Avalanche in OT

by Rick Sadowski /

DENVER -- If the Columbus Blue Jackets earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their 4-3 overtime win Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center could prove to be a major factor.

Nick Foligno scored with 28.7 seconds remaining in the extra period to give the Blue Jackets their fourth consecutive win after RJ Umberger scored with 1:27 to play in regulation to send the game into OT.

"There's no quit on this team," Foligno said. "It's what's going to allow us, hopefully, to get into the playoffs and have a real good push here at the end. But we have to understand that we need to play a little bit better. We need to come out with a little more motivation and jump, but we're looking forward to that task.

"We're finding ways to get big goals. Guys are stepping up at huge times and it's allowing us to continue this push to the postseason."

The Blue Jackets moved into ninth place in the Western Conference with five games to play. The Blue Jackets and eighth-place Detroit Red Wings each have 47 points, but the Wings have one game in hand.

Foligno had gone eight games without a goal before he finished off a 2-on-1 rush when he fired the puck between goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere's pads from inside the right circle.

"I have a bad habit of always looking for the pass first," Foligno said. "They always say, look for the shot and if there's none there to throw a pass over. I was looking for [Umberger] and he wasn't open. I just figured I'd try to shoot five-hole and catch him before he went down. Luckily it was able to squeak through his legs."

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 29 saves, robbed Gabriel Landeskog on a shorthanded breakaway 50 seconds into overtime while Avalanche defenseman Shane O'Brien was serving an elbowing penalty that started with 57.3 seconds left in regulation.

"Big-time save," Foligno said. "That's what Bob does. I mean, he's the MVP of this team. I don't think there's any doubt about that. He makes huge saves and you need that. He's stepping up and doing that, and we're happy to get him some goals and get him some wins."

Umberger's goal came 35 seconds after Jamie McGinn's power-play goal put the Avalanche ahead 3-2. Umberger maneuvered around Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie while skating into the Colorado end and slipped the puck beneath Giguere's pads.

"No one got down," Umberger said. "Years in the past there would have been dropped shoulders. This bench, this bench was saying, ‘Let's go after them, let's get them.' This group, we're fighting to the end and everybody knew we were going to win this game."

McGinn had drawn a high-sticking penalty from Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin and tipped home defenseman Stefan Elliott's shot from the high slot on the ensuing power play with 2:02 remaining.

"Columbus is a team that was desperate to win the game," said Giguere, who made 26 saves. "It's disappointing giving up that goal there at the end. They were in a must-win [situation] for sure, and we need to match their intensity. This is playoff-type hockey. It's unfortunate that they got the win."

The Blue Jackets have won the first two games of a six-game road trip that continues Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. Their only remaining home game is the season finale against the Nashville Predators.

"This is huge," Foligno said. "We understand this going to make or break our season. I think every guy is up to that challenge and understanding that we need to play at our best. We can't take any nights off and tonight we were a little disappointed in how we started. But we found a way to get back into it, found a way to get a goal and found a way to get a win.

"Good teams do that and winning teams do that. We have to keep that mentality going."

Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod matched his career high for goals in a game with two and tied the game 2-2 at 5:21 of the third period. Tyson Barrie took a shot from the right corner and McLeod tipped it in while jousting for position with Nikitin.

The Blue Jackets had gone ahead 2-1 at 2:32 on a goal by Blake Comeau, his first in four games since his April 3 acquisition from Calgary. Comeau was in the slot when he converted Derek MacKenzie's pass from behind the net while being checked by Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda.

The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead at 10:57 of the second period on a goal by McLeod, but the Blue Jackets got even 1:38 later on a goal by Mark Letestu.

McLeod, a fourth-liner for most of his NHL career, has been playing on a line with Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly as a reward for his hard work and willingness to drive to the net. He scored on a rebound, banging the puck under Bobrovsky's glove after Landeskog took a shot from the slot.

Letestu answered at 12:35 off a pass from Vinny Prospal. The play started when Prospal attempted to shoot the puck around the boards -- but it hit referee Tim Peel and slid a couple of feet. Prospal regained possession and passed through the goalmouth to Letestu at the base of the right circle for a shot inside the near post.

The Blue Jackets kept the score tied by killing off a double minor to Marian Gaborik late in the second period while holding the Avalanche to three shots. Gaborik was penalized for clipping Matt Hunwick in the face.

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