For two periods, this game felt a lot like Tuesday’s game at Montreal. Two great goalies standing tall and both teams peppering them with shots, but with nothing to show for it.
We saw Bob do Bob things. Like this:
It appeared in the second period that Minnesota had opened the scoring. After a lengthy review - initiated by the war room in Toronto, not a coach’s challenge - it was determined that Erik Haula had intentionally kicked the puck in the crease, which then ricocheted off William Karlsson into the goal.
Finally, five minutes into the third - well over 100 minutes since their last goal - Brandon Saad broke the drought. Yes, the unfairly maligned Brandon Saad.
After a turnover, Nick Foligno passed the puck out of the defensive zone to a streaking Saad. Now normally he has struggled with finishing. This appeared to be another example, with Ryan Suter slowing him down a bit, and Devan Dubnyk stopping the shot. Saad never gave up on the play, however, and when Dubnyk couldn’t secure the puck Saad was able to poke at it again and send it trickling across the line.
That’s Saad’s 19th goal of the season. What the hell is everyone complaining about?
Torts’ line blender was in full force again, with Saad ending up back with Wennberg and Foligno. In fact, there was quite a stark divide between the usage of the top 6 and bottom 6 forwards:
The new guys got to play today. Korpi 2.0 showed some speed. Quincey did well in some PK shifts (as a team they continue a hot streak on the PK. They’ve killed 17 of the last 18 opportunities, going back 8 games).
For much of the game, the Jackets dominated in SOG and SAT. They had 13 more 5v5 shot attempts than Minnesota after Saad’s goal, but then score effects kicked in and Minnesota finished with a 2 shot attempt advantage.
The shot charts are very unusual. As good as the goalies were, their defenses stepped up big and kept the crease clear:
Bob’s shutout was his 4th of the season and 16th in his career. Tonight was his 33rd win, which is a new personal record (eclipsing the 32 wins he had in 2013-14).
With 20 games to play, Columbus is 2 points ahead of Pittsburgh and 7 behind Washington for first in the Metro, the East, and the whole damn league.
How good are the Blue Jackets? Let’s consider their results so far against the top 10 teams in the league (9 not including us):
Washington: 2-1-0, 4 out of 6 points, 5 GF 8 GA
Minnesota: 2-0-0, 4 out of 4 points, 5 GF 2 GA
Chicago: 1-0-0, 2 out of 2 points, 3 GF 2 GA
Pittsburgh: 2-0-1, 5 out of 6 points, 12 GF 6 GA
NY Rangers: 3-2-0, 6 out of 10 points, 21 GF 16 GA
San Jose: 0-2-0, 0 out of 4 points, 3 GF 6 GA
Montreal: 2-0-1, 5 out of 6 points, 12 GF 2 GA
Edmonton: 2-0-0, 4 out of 4 points, 6 GF 2 GA
Ottawa: 1-1-0, 2 out of 4 points, 7 GF 8 GA
Total: 15-6-2, 32 out of 46 points, 74 GF 52 GA