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Bobrovsky's spectacular play saving day for Blue Jackets

Goalie helps Columbus win back-to-back games

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

MONTREAL -- He had no chance. At least he shouldn't have.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky came out of his crease to challenge Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw on a 2-on-1 in the third period at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

When Shaw passed from right to left in front of defenseman Markus Nutivaara, the puck hit the tape of forward Jacob de la Rose in the high slot.

The net was wide open.

Except de la Rose waited a split second, and a split second is too long for Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender for the second time last season and looks like he's at or near that level again.

"Enough time for 'Bob' to make another top-10, 'SportsCenter' save," Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson said.

Bobrovsky said he couldn't remember what he did next.

"I can't explain it," he said. "I just play by the moment. The moment dictate that play."

He dropped his stick, and he said that made his blocker hand lighter and allowed him to move quicker. As de la Rose let the shot go, trying to score inside the left post, Bobrovsky anchored his left skate, pushed to his right, did the splits to slide across and stretched his blocker as far as he could.

The puck clipped his blocker as he fell on his stomach.

Video: CBJ@MTL: Bobrovsky robs de la Rose with blocker

"I was on the ice," Atkinson said. "I'm going to have to buy him dinner after that one."

The Blue Jackets kept a 1-0 lead and went on to win 2-1 in overtime. Bobrovsky made 28 saves, 13 in the third.

"It's just, Bob never gives," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said, not specifying whether he meant Bobrovsky never gives up or never gives in, as if it matters. "He's an athlete. The things he can do as far as going side to side is just so impressive. It's just a great save.

"I think right now the Columbus Blue Jackets own the best save of the year in the highlights and I think the second-best save of the year in the highlights, and it's fortunate because it allows us to get some points."

The crazy part? This was the second-best save of the year -- the second-best save of the past two games.

With the score 1-1 in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday, Bobrovsky faced a 2-on-0.

Video: CBJ@DET: Bobrovsky robs Athanasiou on 2-on-0

Forward Andreas Athanasiou passed from left to right for forward Anthony Mantha. Bobrovsky started to slide to his left, then Mantha one-timed a pass back to Athanasiou. Bobrovsky anchored his left skate, dropped his stick, pushed to his right and did the splits to slide across. 

The puck clipped his right skate as he fell on his stomach.

The Blue Jackets went on to win 2-1 in a shootout, ending an 0-3-1 streak.

Asked which save was better, Atkinson hemmed and hawed so hard that he physically rocked back and forth. He sighed.

"I think, uh …"

He shouted an expletive. This was hard.

"Man, they're both … They're so good. Probably Detroit, because it was a bang-bang play, 2-on-0 from the red line in. I think the best part was watching [defenseman Seth Jones] backcheck, because he was out there for a little bit. It was like training camp all over again. But no, it was definitely … That save in Detroit was crazy. I've never seen anything like that."

Actually, that's a figure of speech. The Blue Jackets have seen a lot like it.

Video: CBJ@MTL: Bobrovsky turns in 28 saves against Habs

"I told 'Bob' after the game last time that I'd seen that in practice a number of times," Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner said. "He does that stuff in practice. I've seen that one tonight again a few times. He just works so hard at it and never gives up in practice, and it translates into a game where you think he's down and out, but he comes across. He's so quick and powerful, and he shoots across there. It's just a tremendous save."

Bobrovsky went 41-17-5 and led the NHL in goals-against average (2.06) and save percentage (.931) last season.

He struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he has in the past, going 1-4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round with a 3.88 GAA and .882 save percentage. That will be an issue in the spring.

But for now he's 10-4-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage. The Blue Jackets are struggling offensively, and he has helped lead them to back-to-back wins.

"Maybe," Atkinson said, "they should try going 3-on-0 next time."

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