Sergei Bobrovsky was a human highlight reel for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night, with multiple jaw-dropping saves in a pivotal 4-2 road victory over the San Jose Sharks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t do Bob any favors in a 4-2 loss on Friday, during a game in which the club allowed multiple breakaway scenarios for the Anaheim Ducks to convert into goals on the scoreboard.
Columbus set the tone early in Sunday’s affair, with Nick Foligno scoring a goal shortly after he exited the penalty box and Sonny Milano adding a second goal at the 18:01 mark of the opening period to give the road squad a 2-0 lead entering the first intermission.
The young Milano, who’s scored in consecutive games, was rather complimentary of his teammate Boone Jenner who set him up for the goal. Here’s how Milano described the turn of events:
Boone made an unbelievable play…I just tapped it in…It was all him (Jenner).
While it’s more than fair to give the Jackets’ offense credit for burying the biscuit twice in the first 20 minutes, the unforgettable moment came when Bob robbed Joe Pavelski, who clearly thought the puck was headed toward the back of the net after deflecting a shot while on the power play. Instead, Pavelski got a front-row view of Bob doing the signature statue-of-liberty pose after making an unbelievable glove save.
The CBJ have made a habit of dominating first periods since the trade deadline, outscoring opponents 9-2 since 3:00 PM ET on Monday afternoon of last week. However, finishing games has been another story. The Jackets saw both a 2-0 lead against the Kings and a 1-0 lead versus the Ducks disintegrate, as they lost each of those games by multiple goals by the time the final horn blew.
You could say the third time’s a charm (on the west-coast trip), as Columbus went up 3-0 in the second period at “The Shark Tank” thanks to an Artemi Panarin goal at the 5:32 mark of the second period that would end up being enough to put an important two points in the bank.
The Sharks (of course) made things interesting, scoring late in the 2nd period and just under the 10-minute mark of the third period to cut the deficit to 3-2. The second goal scored by San Jose came from Evander Kane (his first as a member of the Sharks), who was recently acquired at the deadline.
The Jackets held on this time. To explain the mindset and why they did so, here’s some dialogue from Team Captain Nick Foligno during the postgame interviews:
The confidence has always been there. It’s just frustrating that we have these little lapses that’ve cost us…You look at the, the whole body of work of a game and man we do a lot of good things, but, just these, these little spurts that we seem not to get out of our game consistently enough (eluding to debacles from the matchups against the Kings and Ducks from earlier in the week).
Bob was a force in net. Here’s some of what he saw from his teammates in front of him during the game:
We play smart with the puck…Forecheck smart…We stay composed”
Staying composed, that’s HUGE, especially considering the team lost their composure according to Head Coach John Tortorella earlier in the week while at the Staples Center in LA.
Only one CBJ forward was on the ice for more than 17 minutes (Artemi Panarin with 17:19 of ice time). It’s becoming apparent that youngsters such as Pierre-Luc Dubois, Sonny Milano and Oliver Bjorkstrand (all of which are 22-years old or younger and all got at least 11 minutes of time on ice in the victory) are making a major impact on the games.
Don’t get it twisted, Torts isn’t playing the young guys a lot to develop them. Here’s a snippet of him talking about games at this time of year and how coaching differs from earlier in the season:
The biggest difference this time of year, from a coach’s point of view…I’m gonna go with the guys that I think is gonna give us a chance to win that game. It’s not about developing: It’s not about trying to help a guy along and seeing if his game gets going—I need; whoever’s game is going. They’re gonna play…That’s the change you make here.
Panarin added an empty-net goal with less than a minute remaining to ice the 4-2 victory for the Jackets.
Even with the confidence high and a consistent performance, Nick Foligno knows EXACTLY what’s ahead for him and his teammates:
It’s gotta carry on into the next 16 games we got left.
Up next Columbus will be back at Nationwide Arena with the Vegas Knights coming to town for a matchup on Tuesday night.