COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets continued on their hot streak thanks to the man they call Bob.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves in regulation and overtime, then two more in the shootout to finish with his second career shutout—both in the last week—and lead surging Columbus to a 1-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night, extending the Blue Jackets’ franchise record point streak to 10 games.
Columbus is one of the hottest teams in the NHL and Bobrovsky (9-6-5) has been a big reason why, stopping 239 of 245 shots in his past eight games.
“Nothing new, nothing new,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. “He was great again tonight.”
Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu scored in the shootout, making nice moves then firing shots past Mike Smith, who made 23 saves and also got credit for a shutout, his fourth of the season and 23rd of his career.
“Didn’t give up a lot on both sides and both goaltenders were outstanding, and it comes down to a shootout,” Letestu said. “In the playoffs, that one might have gone three or four overtimes.”
It was the fourth straight shootout game for the Blue Jackets, who are 6-0-4 in their last 10 games to move within two points of eighth place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Phoenix, which also is battling for a playoff spot, has dropped four of its last six.
“As a team we dug in, blocked some shots, did some things,” Richards said. “It’s a huge two points for us against a team we’re chasing.”
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett was happy with his team’s effort.
“There’s certainly some positives to build on,” he said. “One is just our effort through the 65 minutes. It was very strong. We had some decent chances and both goaltenders played very well.”
There wasn’t much end-to-end action in the game, but when there was a chance, the goalies were there to snuff them out.
In overtime, Bobrovsky gloved a tough Martin Hanzal shot with seeming ease and Brandon Dubinsky nearly jammed home the winner, but Smith also kept his cool hugging the post. The most dramatic chance in the third period came with under a minute left. Antoine Vermette had a clean look at the Columbus net from the slot, but Bobrovsky turned it aside.
In the second period, Matt Calvert couldn’t beat Smith from in tight after the puck squirted to him from behind the net. Later, Smith took matters into his own hands trying to create a little offence. He saucered a long pass to the Blue Jackets’ blue line springing Rob Klinkhanner on a breakaway. Bobrovsky lunged to make the save with the shot clanking off his face mask.
“He controlled his rebounds really well too,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said of Bobrovsky. “We didn’t get as many second-chance opportunities as you want.”
With the period winding down and the Coyotes on the power play, Steve Sullivan missed on a golden opportunity, sending his redirect from near the crease wide. The Blue Jackets took off the other way with Dubinsky sending a spinning short-handed 2-on-1 feed to Calvert, but he was again stymied by Smith as the horn sounded.
Each team fired 12 shots in the opening period. Smith made the best save when he kicked out his right pad to stop Anisimov’s breakaway shot.
“It’s a case right now were we’ve got the hot goalie and we’re going to ride him as long as we can,” Letestu said.
NOTES: Columbus has not allowed a power-play goal in 13 games. … Phoenix D Oliver Ekman-Larrson, 21, played his first game since signing a six-year contract worth $5.5 million annually. … The Blue Jackets are 1-0-2 on a five-game home stand that continues Tuesday against Nashville. … Phoenix’s next stop on their season-high four-game (0-1-1) road trip is Monday at Los Angeles. They are 3-6-4 on the road this season. … The Blue Jackets announced during the game they reassigned C Sean Collins to the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. … The Blue Jackets lead the league in one-goal games, including 12 of their past 13.