NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets needed their best player to step up with the playoffs starting to slip away, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t disappoint.
Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots and made a couple of big third-period saves to preserve the lead as the Blue Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the New Jersey Devils’ four-game winning streak with a 2-1 decision on Tuesday night.
“He played really well, especially in the second period where we turned some pucks over and didn’t give ourselves a chance to forecheck,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said after the Blue Jackets won for only fifth time since Jan. 18. “He made some key saves there. He’s a good goalie and we all know that. He certainly was a big part of it tonight.”
Bobrovsky made a key stop on a wrist shot by defenseman Will Butcher in the waning minutes and stoned Blake Coleman in close twice halfway through the period, allowing defenseman Scott Harrington’s tie-breaking, second-period goal to be the game winner.
“Bob’s always our best player,” said defenseman Zach Werenski, who had the primary assist on Boone Jenner’s first-period goal. “We didn’t really help him up front a lot. We didn’t really play great defensively in front of him but Bob is always consistently our best player. He’s one of the reasons why we won.”
The win allowed the Blue Jackets to move into the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with 65 points, one ahead of Carolina and the Islanders.
“It was a tight game,” Bobrovsky said. “It was two defensive teams against each other. It’s all about the points.”
Taylor Hall scored for the Devils to extend his point-scoring streak to 12 games, tying David Pastrnak of the Bruins for the league-high this season. He also pushed his personal point-scoring streak to 19 games. He missed three games with a thumb injury so the league does not consider that to be part of his current run.
“I thought we played well enough to win the game; that’s a team that’s been getting 45-50 shots a game and we held them to 19,” Hall said. “I thought we did a pretty good job for a lot of the game, so it’s just one of those games that could have gone either way.”
Keith Kinkaid had 17 saves for New Jersey, which holds the first wild-card spot in the conference.
Harrington, who has three career goals, has scored both of his goals this season at Prudential Center. The go-ahead goal was set up by Artemi Panarin, who found the 24-year-old coming late on a rush. Harrington’s shot from above the left circle beat Kinkaid to the low corner.
“He made a good shot but I have to make sure I get out a little farther,” Kinkaid said. “It was a bit out of the reach of my glove and it skimmed the top of my pad. It was a good shot but I’d like to make that save.”
Jenner gave the Blue Jackets the lead 5:19 after the opening faceoff. Werenski had a shot off the goalpost, but Jenner knocked the rebound into an open net.
Hall tied the game early in the second period with a length-of-the-ice rush after collecting a loose puck along the boards in the Devils’ zone. The left wing got to the right circle in the Columbus zone and caught Bobrovsky cheating to play a cross-ice pass. His shot slipped between the goaltender and the goalpost for his 25th goal of the season.
NOTES: Injured Devils G Cory Schneider (groin-hip) skated for a second straight day. … Hall has a point in every game he has played since the turn of the year. … Columbus won the season series 3-1. … The Blue Jackets are 18-2-2 when leading after two periods, and 7-1 in last eight games at the Prudential Center. Devils C Nico Hischier had his four-game goal scoring streak snapped.
Blue Jackets: Play the Flyers in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Devils: Host the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
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