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Savard's late goal sends Blue Jackets past Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski /

DENVER -- David Savard turned what had been a dreadful experience into a memorable one at Pepsi Center on Sunday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman made up prior mistakes when he scored with 1:01 remaining in the third period for a 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

Savard, whose giveaway in the opening 30 seconds resulted in an Avalanche goal, took a shot from the blue line that hit Colorado's Borna Rendulic and bounced behind goalie Semyon Varlamov to break a 3-3 tie.

Savard and defense partner Jack Johnson were on the ice for all three Avalanche goals.

"Me and Jack talked about it as soon as we walked in the room [after the game]," Savard said. "We finally got a bounce. Tonight we both were pretty rattled about the game. Obviously it's not fun when you're in on all three goals. It felt good."

The Avalanche (15-16-8) felt just the opposite.

Varlamov, who faced four shots in the third period, called the decisive goal a case of "bad luck," but Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Savard never should have been given such an opportunity.

"I am disappointed because one minute left in the game, this is a game we need to bring to overtime," Roy said. "That's happened way too many times this year, especially at home. You can say it's bad luck, but they put the puck on net and they scored. Still, I thought we could have done a better job on that play, having a different kind of pressure. They got out easy, it was an odd-man rush and they took advantage of it."

The Blue Jackets (17-17-3) were playing the second game of a back-to-back situation, having lost 6-3 Saturday to the Arizona Coyotes to open a four-game road trip. They're 11-2-1 in their past 14 games.

"It's always good when you get a back to back," Savard said. "You don't want to play bad games, but when you get the chance to play the next night, it's always good to go at it."

Savard wanted to bounce back after his pass from the left corner went right to Jarome Iginla, who scored against goalie Curtis McElhinney on the first shift of the game. The goal was Iginla's 10th of the season and 570th of his NHL career, three behind Mike Bossy for 20th all time.

"The second I tried to clear it out, it hits the guy and he goes for a little breakaway," Savard said. "It wasn't my best game and I was just trying to keep positive. It paid off in the end."

Brandon Dubinsky, who missed the first 26 games to recover from an abdominal injury, tied the game 1-1 at 11:35 of the period with the first of his two goals. Defenseman Cody Goloubef took a shot from the right circle that was going wide and Dubinsky deflected it in for his first of the season.

Dubinsky gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead at 1:37 of the second period. Matt Calvert dumped the puck in the left corner and it bounced off a referee's skate to Dubinsky in the slot for a low shot that beat Varlamov to the far side.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog scored his first goal in 15 games at 5:25 to tie the game 2-2. He moved by Savard along the left boards and powered his way to the net. He cut inside Johnson and slid the puck by McElhinney's left skate.

Colorado's Alex Tanguay had a breakaway shortly after, but McElhinney got a piece of his shot and the puck glanced off the crossbar.

The Blue Jackets answered at 7:50 to take a 3-2 lead. Scott Hartnell passed to a wide-open Ryan Johansen in the slot for his 12th goal. Johansen has three goals and four assists in a seven-game point streak.

"As soon as the puck was on Hartnell’s stick, I knew it was coming to me," Johansen said. "So I stayed off on the side of the net."

The Avalanche tied the game 3-3 at 15:30 on a wraparound by Cody McLeod, who banked the puck into the net off McElhinney's left shoulder after it hit Savard's stick and his hand.

"[Savard] has been really good for us," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "The first one, we don't have to talk about that one, but the other two ... bad bounces. That happens at times. But it's nice to see him get rewarded at the end of the game. Really, the whole team got rewarded."

McElhinney, who graduated from Colorado College, had 27 saves, 17 in the second period when the Avalanche applied plenty of pressure. But he was happiest for Savard.

"It's terrific," he said. "It's one of those things where it all comes full circle in a game. [The winning goal] is an unfortunate bounce on their end but for us, playing back-to-back, it's nice to see, especially for a guy who had some unfortunate bounces in the game himself."

The Avalanche killed all three of their penalties against the Blue Jackets, who have the best power play in the League, but they went 0-for-4 on power plays and have failed to score on 13 of 14 advantages in the past five games.

"We realized it was an opportunity for us to get over .500 for the first time this season," Iginla said. "The last goal, the biggest thing is with a minute left, those hurt the most because you have to get that one point and we know that."

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