ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ryan Johansen capped an improbable comeback in the shootout by scoring in the fourth round to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu scored on Minnesota's first two attempts in the tiebreaker. But Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu sandwiched successful attempts around a miss by Jason Pominville to send the shootout to an extra round. After Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Matt Moulson's attempt, Johansen came in, avoided a poke-check bid by goaltender Darcy Kuemper and backhanded the puck into an empty net.
Officials on the ice originally waved off the goal, saying that Kuemper had gotten his stick on the puck, but a video review overturned the call and gave Columbus the win.
“Good job Toronto,” Johansen said, referring to the NHL Situation Room, which reviewed the call. “I knew I scored, I just didn’t know what they were talking about at first. I thought maybe I kind of went backwards there when I brought the puck back. I guess they thought maybe the puck hit the goalie’s stick for a second. I’m happy they called it a goal.”
“I hope they weren’t as nervous as I was on the bench,” Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout said. “The guys had ice in their veins there, going down 2-0 in the shootout.”
Johansen's deciding goal won a goaltending duel between Bobrovsky (32 saves) and Kuemper (29), both of whom were tested early and often.
No team had won a shootout this season after falling behind 2-0.
“You don’t see too many [wins] when you’re down 2-0 with two shooters left,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “And they still had a great shooter third.”
The victory moved the Blue Jackets (35-26-6) ahead of the New York Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division. Each team has 76 points but the Blue Jackets have a game in hand.
“That’s the talk in our room,” Johansen said. “Other teams are getting points and we’ve got to keep up with them, keep doing our job. We came here to Minnesota, found a way to get two, and we’re going back with smiles on our faces.”
For Bobrovsky, it was his second straight game-stealing performance at Xcel Energy Center. Richards refers to his 39-save effort in a 3-2 shootout win last season as simply “The Bobrovsky Game.” Bobrovsky wrote another chapter on Saturday, stopping 12 shots each in the first and second periods and eight more in the third period and overtime.
“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s being in Minnesota, or if there’s something in this building, certainly looks like he’s comfortable playing in this building,” Richards said. “He’s the main reason why we got two points tonight.”
Thanks to realignment, the Wild see Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets twice this season instead of four or five times, as they did when the teams were in the Central Division.
“I’m glad that we don’t have to play against that goalie again this year,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “He seems to really enjoy playing against us.”
It wasn’t until 19:38 of the second period and the 55th shot of the game that either team was finally able to get on the board. Even then, it took a deflection off a stick and then a leg to get the puck into the net.
Columbus took the lead when a point shot by Prout hit off Wild forward Matt Cooke’s stick, caromed off defenseman Jonas Brodin’s knee and bounced past Kuemper. The goal was Prout’s second of the season.
The Wild tied it 3:12 into the third period on a great hustle play by Parise, who raced down ice to negate an icing call, then sent a saucer pass to Pominville at the bottom of the right circle. Pominville ripped a one-timer that snuck between Bobrovsky and the near-side post for his 25th of the season.
Bobrovsky rebounded after that, stopping Charlie Coyle alone in front with 11:40 left in regulation and denying a redirection try by Kyle Brodziak seconds later. He got some help from the goal post earlier in the game; Pominville rang the bar in the first period and Clayton Stoner ripped a slap shot off the post in the second.
“I’m almost sick of talking about it. He’s so good every night,” Johansen said of Bobrovsky. “He’s the backbone of our team and we’re going to need him to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Minnesota (35-22-10) solidified its hold on a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. The Wild hold the first wild-card position in the Western Conference, five points ahead of the Dallas Stars, but can't be happy at all the points they left on the table by going 1-0-3 on a four-game homestand. Minnesota begins a three-game road trip Monday night against the Boston Bruins.
Minnesota dropped three shootouts in seven days after winning seven of its past eight.
“You lose in a shootout and it paints an ugly picture,” Yeo said. “We can’t sit here and look back three games, we can’t sit here and look ahead three games. I think our guys have done a pretty good job of just staying in the moment and getting ready for the next one and that’s what we have to do now.”
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