COLUMBUS, Ohio – Artem Anisimov took a shot to the right knee early in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ game on Sunday. He came back in the second period, and got even a bit later.
Anisimov scored on a hard wrister during a power play in overtime, lifting Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets to a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
“I passed two times to Timmy (Erixon) and he didn’t score,” Anisimov said. “So I decided, why not? I’ve got to shoot the puck and score.”
Bobrovsky made 18 saves as Columbus finally won a close game. The Blue Jackets had lost four in a row, each by one goal, with the last two coming in overtime. They also stopped a slide of seven losses in eight games, all but one of those defeats by a single goal.
The game was tied at 1 for most of the third period and the first 2:26 of overtime. It was debatable whether either team deserved its goal in regulation.
The winning sequence began with Anisimov with the puck near the right dot. Teammate R.J. Umberger was backed up to the crease and goalie Semyon Varlamov was struggling to get an unobstructed view.
“I saw Umby was in front of the net and the goalie didn’t see more than my left side,” said Anisimov, who played with Varlamov in the Russian Super League in 2006-07. “I tried the shot to the short side.”
Anisimov, who was acquired in the blockbuster deal last summer that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, played with the puck for a moment before firing a high, hard forehand wrist shot just inside the near goal post that barely missed Umberger.
“I thought he was going to come down to me with the pass. I was trying to get myself in position so I could make a power move,” Umberger said. “But he made a shot and it went in. Somehow.”
Vinny Prospal had the other goal for the Blue Jackets, thanks to Ryan O’Reilly, who inadvertently tapped it in while making his season debut for the Avs.
P.A. Parenteau scored for Colorado, but also was called for hooking Umberger on a rush to provide the power play that decided the outcome.
O’Reilly, last year’s leading scorer for Colorado with 18 goals and 37 assists, had missed the first five weeks of the abbreviated season in a contract dispute that ended when the Avalanche matched an offer sheet he signed with Calgary.
“He was like everybody else,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said when asked to assess O’Reilly’s play. “We didn’t get a lot of offensive production from our lines. We didn’t generate a lot because we weren’t skating the way we normally skate.”
The Blue Jackets tied it in the third, making the most of their second lengthy opportunity with a two-man advantage. Prospal’s centring pass from the right side went off the stick of O’Reilly 4:04 into the period.
It was the first time this season Columbus had scored on a 5 on 3. It also was Prospal’s team-best eighth goal, and it came two weeks after he turned 38 years old.
“I’m not going to play forever, so this is something I try to live by,” Prospal said when asked whether the goals this late in his career are even sweeter. “There’s never enough of them.”
Varlamov, who shut out Columbus 4-0 on Jan. 24 while making 33 saves, stymied the Blue Jackets for the first 104 minutes he faced them this season.
“He played well again,” Sacco said. “He certainly gave us a chance to win. He battled, he fought. That’s all you can ask of your goalie.”
Colorado scored first at 12:35 of the second period, also on a quirky goal. Parenteau sent the puck from the right point toward the net. Teammate Matt Duchene lifted his stick in a redirect attempt but missed the puck. It surprised Bobrovsky, slowly floating past him. A video review showed Duchene had not touched the puck.
It was Parenteau’s team-leading ninth of the year.
The Avalanche killed 1:21 of a two-man disadvantage in the opening period. They also dodged a possible goal when Derek Dorsett’s 2-on-1 attempt off a nifty pass from Derek MacKenzie was wide of an almost empty net while Varlamov was caught out of position.
Anisimov was thrilled he could return to the ice and still make a contribution.
“For me, it’s more of a team win,” he said. “We got two huge points. We just need to keep going.”
NOTES: Colorado D Patrick Bordeleau slammed D Nikita Nikitin into the boards in the second. Nikitin (upper body injury) went directly to the dressing room and did not return. Moments later, Columbus’ Jared Boll fought with Bordeleau. … The Avalanche opened a three-game road trip that will also take them to Detroit and Chicago. … The Blue Jackets were without several top players: C Brandon Dubinsky (right knee), D Jack Johnson (shoulder), D James Wisniewski (broken right foot), C Derick Brassard (upper body) and D John Moore (upper body). … Colorado is 6-2-1 at home and 2-6-3 on the road.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap