BLUE JACKETS 2, AVALANCHE 1
columbus, ohio» If not for a poor defensive shift to begin the game and an unlucky bounce off a skate in the waning minutes, the Avalanche would have chalked up Saturday as one of its best ownzone performances of the season.
But the Columbus Blue Jackets made their 21st shot count late in the third period to emerge with a 2-1 victory at Nationwide Arena and deny Colorado at least a welldeserved point.
The Blue Jackets got the gamewinning goal with 1:07 remaining in regulation, preventing overtime and a point for the visitors. Defenseman Jack Johnson’s harmless shot from the offensive blue line caromed off the skate of Avalanche forward Cody McLeod. McLeod was trying to block the puck with his foot but instead deflected it toward the net, and the change in direction fooled goalie Calvin Pickard.
There were no Blue Jackets near McLeod to make a play on the puck.
“It’s frustrating. I should have just let Calvin have it. I should
have let him see the puck,” McLeod said. “It’s my fault.”
Pickard, who was making his second consecutive start on the heels of Thursday’s shutout win over New Jersey, said the puck came off Johnson’s stick and made a strange bounce before hitting McLeod.
“Just an unlucky bounce at an unlucky time,” Pickard said. “We deserved a better result. I thought we had the puck a lot more and more scoring chances. It’s frustrating. I thought we did a lot of great things.”
The Avs were outshooting Columbus 27-15 midway through the third period and finished with a 30-21 advantage.
“We were really sharp tonight, except for maybe that first shift where they scored that first goal,” Avs coach Patrick Roy said. “Other than that, we were impeccable in our end. I thought we deserved more than that. But, hey, that’s the way this game is. You’re going to win some you don’t deserve to win, and sometimes you’re going to lose some that you deserve (to win). Tonight is an example.”
Columbus scored on its first shift, and Colorado tied it 6:02 into the second period. The equalizer came off a give-and-go play by linemates Chris Wagner and Jarome Iginla. Wagner made a drop pass to Iginla on the rush and drove to the net. En route, Iginla put the puck in his path and Wagner tapped it past rookie goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
Columbus’ first goal came 58 seconds into the game when Avs defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Nick Holden seemed like spectators. Zadorov played too loose on Ryan Murray, and Holden lost his man in front. Murray made a behind-the-net feed to Brandon Dubinsky for a one-timer from the doorstep.
“Like I said, other than the first shift, I thought we played really well defensively,” Roy said.
Avalanche top-line center Nathan MacKinnon was held without a shot and had two giveaways in 19:10. Linemate Matt Duchene had a team-high six shots on his 25th birthday.