COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets are getting repaid for working overtime.
Matt Calvert carried the puck almost from end to end, twice avoiding opposing players, skated to the slot and scored on a rising wrist shot to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
It was Columbus’ fifth consecutive overtime game—and the Blue Jackets have won three of them in a row for their longest streak of the season.
“We’re starting to learn how to win hockey games,” Calvert said with a wide grin.
He took a pass from Fedor Tyutin deep in the defensive zone and chipped the puck along the right boards while twice fighting off defenders. He then went unimpeded to the right hash before whipping the puck high over the glove side of goalie Cory Schneider.
“On their winning goal, both of our guys sort of mis-stepped there and the guy (Calvert) went around them,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “He came in all alone against Schneids, so they were able to capitalize on their opportunity.”
Calvert has been a revelation as the Blue Jackets have shown grit and hard work despite having the worst record in the Western Conference. No one is beating them badly, as evidenced by the fact they’ve played 15 games decided by one goal out of their first 24.
Calvert has been the poster boy for the hard-working bunch.
“He was strong along the wall and muscled their defenceman who was trying to pinch him off,” Columbus defenceman Jack Johnson said. “Then he pulled off and a lot of other guys would have hurried up and tried to force a pass or a shot. But he showed great patience and made a great shot.”
In scoring his fourth goal of the season, Calvert made it sound almost boring.
“It was kind of a broken play off the start,” he said. “I got the puck by the D-man and then I saw some open ice in the middle, so I went there and saw an opening high glove side. I raised the puck and luckily it went in.”
Sergei Bobrovsky had 34 saves and R.J. Umberger also scored for the Blue Jackets, who with a new director of hockey operations (John Davidson) and a new GM (Jarmo Kekalainen) are trying to turn things around. They have three first-round picks in this summer’s draft.
Down 1-0 going into the third period, the Canucks, who lead the Northwest Division but are just 1-3-2 in their last six games, evened things after just over a minute.
Dan Hamhuis’ pass from the left wing appeared to hit a couple of players before it bounced to the right doorstep, where Henrik Sedin was waiting. He lifted the puck above a sprawling Bobrovsky for his fifth goal of the season, extending his points streak to six games. Sedin has three goals and five assists during the streak.
Bobrovsky saved the Blue Jackets, who got a first-period goal from Umberger, on a short-handed chance late in the third.
On a power play Johnson tossed a blind pass right to the stick of the Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, who had nothing but open ice between him and Bobrovsky. He skated in, almost like a shootout, but Bobrovsky deflected the puck wide with just under 5 minutes left in regulation.
Moments later, the Blue Jackets’ Ryan Johansen had a one-timer from the right dot that clanged off the near post.
“I keep coming back to being resilient,” Johansen said. “Our team, from Bobrovsky and (Steve Mason) on out, every night we’re putting out a full effort. It’s showing now the last few games. We’re coming out with wins—and that’s a lot of fun.”
NOTES: Vancouver D Kevin Bieksa (groin) missed his third game in a row. … When it was announced during the first intermission the NHL players association had approved a new divisional setup next year that will send Columbus to the Eastern Conference, there was a loud ovation. The Blue Jackets are the farthest east franchise in the Western Conference. … Blue Jackets RW Derek Dorsett was wiped out by Andrew Alberts’ hit on a first-period rush. Dorsett sustained a broken clavicle and is likely lost for the remainder of the season. … There was a tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors, who died at 77 earlier this week, with the arena singing along with “The Hockey Game.” … Columbus improved to 4-4 in overtime this season, while the Canucks fell to 3-6.
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