Bobrovsky outduels Smith in Jackets’ OT win
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A battle of two goaltenders on top of their games came down to which team could find the net first in the stalemate.
It took overtime before Columbus forward Josh Anderson could put a puck past Calgary goaltender Mike Smith and give the Blue Jackets a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Flames on Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets took advantage of a Flames turnover behind the net with 2:58 remaining in the extra period when Nick Foligno collected the loose puck and delivered a pass to Anderson, who sent a close-range shot past Smith’s glove for the winner.
“When you get an opportunity, you have to take full advantage of that,” Anderson said. “No hesitation there. I was screaming at the top of my lungs for Nicky there. I really wanted it and just sealed the game.”
The Blue Jackets (14-7-1) won their fifth straight game while surging into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus has a 7-1 record in games that have gone to extra time this season.
“I thought we stayed within ourselves and played,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “We’ve been involved in a lot of close games and I think we’ve handled ourselves well.
“We played good tonight. The way we played tonight we deserved to win.”
A major factor in the Blue Jackets rising to the top is the play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
The two-time Vezina Trophy winner posted his third shutout of the season. He faced only 22 shots from the Flames but made his biggest stop with 19.1 seconds remaining in the third period to keep the game scoreless.
Bobrovsky is 5-1-0 in his last six games, with two of the shutouts coming in his last three starts.
But the Blue Jackets are struggling to score. They have no more than three goals in any of their past seven games. Bobrovsky (13-4-1) keeps coming to the rescue, though.
“I’m focusing on my things,” Bobrovsky said. “I can’t go and score the goals. I can’t control that. I don’t think about that. I try to stay in my zone and do my thing.”
The Flames (12-8-1) had a two-game win streak ended in the fourth game of their six-game road trip, but they salvaged with a point with the overtime loss.
Flames coach Glen Gulutzan was candid in his assessment.
“The right team won tonight,” he said.
Smith’s play in goal was the only reason the Flames were able to make a game of it. Calgary was outshot 41-22 and Smith let only one get past him, losing for just the second time this month in seven decisions.
“To be honest, we got what we deserved,” Smith said. “I don’t think we deserved to win that game from my standpoint. I thought tonight we wanted to play an easy game and they’re too good a team to have to play that way.”
The Flames had some jump in the first period but managed only three shots in the second period while the Blue Jackets controlled the action in the neutral zone.
“I thought we caused a lot of their chances,” Flames defenseman Michael Stone said. “We didn’t have the offensive zone time we had hoped and turned too many pucks over. They’re a good neutral-zone team.”
In the end, a turnover burned the Flames and benefited the Blue Jackets.
“Nicky made a great play on the turnover and I saw the opening on the high glove and so I just tried to put it in place and it went in,” Anderson said.
NOTES: Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau’s 10-game points streak ended. He entered with 19 points during that stretch after five straight multi-point games. ... Blue Jackets C Lukas Sedlak returned after missing 13 games with an ankle injury. ... Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg missed his fourth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. ... Flames C Michael Backlund has 99 career goals. ... RW Cam Atkinson played in his 400th career NHL game, all with the Blue Jackets.