Sergei Bobrovski has been playing out of his GD mind as of late. Suffering a 1-0 shutout loss to the Canadiens last game, you can bet he was going to stop anything and everything versus the Western Conference leading Minnesota Wild. That’s exactly what he did, though, it certainly didn’t seem like he needed to be there the whole game as the Wild only mounted a decent, sustained offensive attack in the third period, where they outshot the Blue Jackets 18-13 in the final frame.
The first period featured fairly even play, in terms of shots, but it sure felt like the Blue Jackets had the better of the chances. Wild starting goaltender Devan Dubnyk was on his game early, and he was good. He stopped 39 of 40 shots he faced. Though it was clear the Wild were having issues getting out of their end.
The one that got by him? Oh that barely crossed the goal line after he mishandled the glove and Brandon Saad beat Ryan Suter and just did poke it through the left pad and left post of Dubnyk.
The game might as well have been played in late 2001 rather than the modern NHL where they made rule to do away with the clutching and grabbing that stifled skill, speed, and goal scoring. The Blue Jackets interfered, hooked, held, and were all over Wild players as they tried to work through the neutral zone and in the Jackets’ end. But, just like you could call holding on every play in the NFL but refs don’t because they don’t want to slow the game down, the officials seemed to turn a blind eye because they didn’t want to slow the game down.
Eric Staal was one of those that had a call, or in this case, a non-call go against him. He was checked into Bobrovsky and while laying on him in the crease, David Savard took three solid punches to the back of Staal’s melon. He also had the best chance of the game for Minnesota. The Wild started to find and offensive rhythm when they used stretch passes through the neutral zone to spread the Blue Jackets out and create some room. One of those passes found Staal on a clear breakaway and he only found the fabric of the Blue Jackets’ goalie jersey.
That Staal chance came after a brutal start to the second period. Minnesota couldn’t get anything in terms of offense going. Pretty Bobrovsky strung a hammock using the iron and twine from what was formerly the Jackets net.
Erik Haula looked to have scored. It was the only puck that beat Bob on the night. But after review, it was clear the puck was deliberately kicked in the net. The puck went off a skate of a Columbus player before squirting through the pads, but according to the rule, that does not negate the initial kicking motion.
The third period belonged to the Wild with the better chances, better pressure, and clearly more shots. Borovsky made some great saves, and the Blue Jackets defense were very solid in front of their net. Minnesota could not get the equalizer and were shutout for the first time on the road since early November.
Minnesota got better goaltending this game. I wouldn’t say the defense was particularly great, but they held up fine by not giving up many odd-man rushes, at least until the Wild were pressing for the tying goal. Offense couldn’t get much going, and failing to score exacerbates the one mistake by Dubynk all night. The power play was 0-for-4 and if they lost the control of the zone, they had a very hard time getting it back. The penalty kill stood strong on the back of Dubnyk, going 4-for-4 for the game.
The Wild have to suppress the shots against a lot better than they are if they want to help their goalies. Against the Sharks, who are next up, Minnesota will need to get back to their skating game. The skating wasn’t always there in the 1-0 loss to the Blue Jackets, and that needs to happen, or the Sharks will swarm the offensive and they have the talent to finish on elongated shifts and bad turnovers.