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Wisniewski, Bobrovsky lead Blue Jackets past Wild

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With the game tied and the Columbus Blue Jackets heading to the power play early in the third period, defenseman James Wisniewski had a feeling something good was going to happen.

His premonition was correct.

Wisniewski scored the game-winning goal 10 seconds into the man-advantage at 5:35 of the third period, helping Columbus to a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

After the Jackets won the faceoff, the puck went to Scott Hartnell along the left wall. He fed Nick Foligno behind the net, who passed to a wide open Wisniewski pinching in from the point for an easy one-timer past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.

"We call it a 'pop' play," Wisniewski said. "It's kind of an automatic, once I see [Hartnell with the puck along the half wall], I start heading down and create some havoc in front of the net."

When executed correctly, the play is difficult to stop. If Hartnell shoots far-side, Wisniewski is all alone on the door step for a rebound. If he passes behind the net to Foligno, he and the All-Star forward have a numbers advantage against the opposing forward down low.

Hartnell chose the latter and the goal ended up being a tap-in.

"Sometimes, as a defenseman you waste energy jumping up into a play and it doesn't do anything," Wisniewski said. "Creeping down and getting rewarded is always a positive."

Wisniewski also chipped in two assists and had a nice defensive play in the third period, sweeping a loose puck in the crease out of harm's way to preserve a one-goal lead.

Ryan Johansen had his 13-game point streak ended, but Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves, including a penalty shot in the second period. Columbus extended its winning streak against Minnesota to five games dating back to 2013.

"Heading into the third period, it had the feeling that it was going to be a one-play kind of game," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

Columbus (20-21-3) got on the board first when Brandon Dubinsky scored in transition on a snap shot from the high slot over Dubnyk's blocker at 7:57 of the first period.

"[Scoring first] is huge, it gets us off to a good start," Dubinsky said. "That's the way our team is going to win hockey games. We gotta keep it tight and make sure that we don't stay away from our system and be opportunistic. That's what we were tonight."

The Wild tied the game late in the first, taking advantage of a power-play opportunity when Mikko Koivu's shot from the point was tipped in front by Zach Parise for his team-leading 17th goal with 1:17 left in the period.

Minnesota (20-20-5) made a concerted effort to get pucks deep after a lackluster first period (five shots) and was able to get better scoring chances.

"Not a lot of clean chances in the first period," Parise said. "I thought once we were a little more committed to getting [the puck] behind their defensemen, we made them turn it over more and we were able to get some more zone time."

Late in the period, an apparent goal by Ryan Suter was waved off when the officials ruled Columbus gained possession of the puck on a delayed penalty.

With four minutes of man-advantage time to work with following a high sticking double minor on David Savard, Minnesota was able to generate one early scoring chance. The Blue Jackets used an aggressive kill to take away momentum.

"It was a great penalty kill," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I don't know how many breakouts they had in that four minutes, they might have had one or two chances in the zone and [Bobrovsky] came up big for us. But we were winning battles and our execution, the guys did a great job.

"Whenever you hear the boos on the road, you know you're doing the right thing."

Hartnell scored an insurance goal with 3:03 left, redirecting a shot from the point by Wisniewski through Dubnyk.

The Wild pulled Dubnyk with two minutes remaining but could not get any closer. He made 20 saves in his first loss with Minnesota since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes last Wednesday.

In addition to the failed penalty shot and the disallowed goal, Justin Fontaine and Nino Niederreiter each hit a post.

"There was a lot of pucks bouncing tonight," Yeo said. "We had some opportunities tonight, we just have to find a way to cash in on them."

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