DENVER – With a quick start and a strong finish, the Columbus Blue Jackets finally pulled out of their two-year drought against the Colorado Avalanche.
Steve Mason stopped 32 shots for his first shutout of the season, defencemen Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin both scored, and the Blue Jackets beat the Avalanche 2-0 on Thursday night to end an 0-9-1 skid against Colorado that dated to the 2009-10 season.
“It is nice to get payback,” said Mason, who registered his 19th NHL shutout. “Obviously, they are in a tough playoff push right now, and if we can play spoiler and have a big game like this, then we’ll take pride in that.”
The Avalanche had their four-game winning streak snapped as they were shut out for the seventh time this season. They also missed a chance to move into eighth place in the Western Conference.
“We had a nice string of wins together but tonight, for whatever reason, our execution wasn’t sharp, especially at the start of the game,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.
Mason withstood a push from the Avalanche, making a key save on a shot by Stefan Elliott early in the third period. He then sprawled on the ice to stuff a shot by Jay McClement at the end of a rush. A shot by Elliott with 2:35 remaining hit the post.
“It’s frustrating for sure,” Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog said. “We definitely weren’t ready to play. I don’t know what the reason was, but we weren’t sharp enough. We were chasing the game after the first period.”
Colorado pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov for an extra attacker with 1:50 left and went on the power play in the final 1:38, but couldn’t break through.
“It was, ‘Just make the timely saves.’ As a goaltender, that’s your job,” Mason said. “Going into the third period, I was fully confident we were going to be able to pull it out. They did get their chances but that’s to be expected because they’re a hungry team, but we were able to walk away with the win.”
Columbus was on the power play when Nikitin gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period. He fired a shot from the point that got past Varlamov, whose winning streak was stopped at three—one shy of his season best.
Tyutin, who assisted on Nikitin’s goal, netted his fifth of the season on a slap shot from the top of the left circle that sailed in over the stick of Varlamov.
“It’s not just about the win,” said the Blue Jackets’ Vinny Prospal, who had two assists. “It’s about the whole game. How many times during the season have we lost a lead in the third period or in the last minute of the game? So for us to finish the game strong, as we did tonight, it’s a big plus.”
NOTES: Columbus, which owns the NHL’s worst record, lost 5-0 to the Avalanche last week. … Left wing Jamie McGinn played in his first game for the Avalanche since being acquired Monday from the San Jose Sharks. … Nikitin has at least one point in seven of his last 10 games. … The Avalanche had scored at least four goals in each of their previous four games.