COLUMBUS, Ohio – Martin Brodeur thought the puck might have been kicked in. Columbus coach Todd Richards preferred to call it good fortune.
Nick Foligno scored the game-winning goal with 91 seconds left when Ryan Johansen’s shot went in off his skate, giving the Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory over Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
“We’ve been on the other side of some of these,” Richards said, referring to a sloppy yet entertaining game of turnovers, mistakes and prime scoring chances. “We were even or maybe outplayed the other team and came out on the losing side. Sometimes these games even themselves out and tonight we won a game when the hockey gods helped us out a little bit.”
The Devils, who dominated long segments of the final period, tied it with 6:01 remaining when Damien Brunner, who had two goals, wheeled and slapped a long rebound past Columbus goalie Curtis McElhinney.
But with 1:31 remaining, Johansen took a shot from the left dot that caught the skate of Foligno, who was shadowed by defenceman Anton Volchenkov, and skittered into the net past Brodeur.
Asked if the puck was kicked in, Brodeur said, “It looked like it, but it’s kind of hard. I know he deflected it and his toe looked like it was up on the replay.”
The career wins leader also said that a few seconds before the deciding goal, he was interfered with by a Columbus player.
The Blue Jackets preferred to look at their relentless comeback.
“We didn’t back down,” Foligno said.
Johansen said the goal was clean.
“I was trying to just throw it to (Foligno),” he said. “I knew he was there. We got a fortunate bounce.”
Cam Atkinson had two goals and two assists, Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and three assists and Matt Calvert also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won their last four at home.
“We definitely gritted it out,” Dubinsky said. “We stepped up and (after they tied it) had a couple of good shifts, and Johansen’s line came up with a huge one for us.”
Travis Zajac and Michael Ryder also had goals for the Devils.
“It should be unacceptable,” Zajac said of the loss. “We shouldn’t have lost that game.”
New Jersey has lost four of five.
“Between a big save or the group finding a way to stop the bleeding, we’ve got to find a way to win that game,” coach Peter DeBoer said.
The Blue Jackets trailed 3-1 before scoring twice in 49 seconds in the second period against Brodeur, who came in 7-2-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .916 save percentage against Columbus.
Off a faceoff, Jack Johnson fired a big slap shot from the point. Atkinson got a whack at it, with the puck dribbling behind Brodeur where Dubinsky pounced on it before the goalie could recover.
Soon after that goal was announced, Dubinsky played keep-away with the puck, going twice back and forth along the back wall, before feeding Atkinson, who lifted a shot high over Brodeur’s shoulder from a hard angle to tie it.
“It’s nice to be rewarded,” Atkinson said of the victory. “We haven’t gotten the bounces in a while.”
Calvert broke a 3-all tie when he scored on a rebound after Brodeur blocked Dubinsky’s shot 18 seconds into the third period.
Despite a two-goal deficit with a future Hall of Famer in the opposing net, the Blue Jackets still found a way to get two points.
“It’s too bad to mess up a game we scored four goals,” Brodeur said. “It doesn’t happen often that we lose a game like that.”
NOTES: New Jersey D Marek Zidlicky returned to the lineup after missing the previous game because of an upper-body injury. … Columbus was playing its second game of a back-to-back after losing 2-1 at Pittsburgh the night before. The Devils had been off since Saturday. … It was the second of a three-game road trip, all against Metropolitan Division opponents, for the Devils. … Johansen extended his career-high point streak to six games (2-6-8).
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