After getting back to some basics in their last game, and most importantly, finding the win column over the Stars, the Columbus Blue Jackets met up with the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night at the Pepsi Center in Colorado.
This is not the same woeful franchise that won all of 22 games a season ago.
The Blue Jackets' first real offensive zone presence got going with the power play starting at 5:35. They did not convert, but sustained pressure and found various looks, culminating in three shots.
Since John Tortorella expressed his desires to see his squad bail out Sergei Bobrovsky after their disappointing loss to the Senators, that trend, starting in Dallas, continued in the first period Thursday. Bobrovsky made 14 saves and reduced Colorado’s second-chance opportunities.
Jonathan Bernier was just as good early.
#CBJ with one of their more positive heat maps to start this one - not getting the majority of attempts, but getting into the right areas with their looks.— Alison (@AlisonL) January 5, 2018
Have 35.48% of 5v5 attempts
35.71% of scoring chances
80% of hi-danger attempts
Bobrovsky's form was on display early in the second period as well, especially tracking the puck, as he would do throughout the night. Carl Soderberg wrapped behind the net, and threw the puck in front, which deflected off a skate. The netminder was there to keep the Avalanche at bay.
Pierre-Luc Dubois was dinged for hooking at 12:23 and this is when Colorado would break through. Off the faceoff, Colorado worked it around the perimeter, and Mikko Rantanen scored his 14th. Tyson Jost and Samuel Girard picked up assists.
Fortunately for Columbus, they got a power play of their own soon after with Alexander Kerfoot going off for goalie interference. The man-advantage carried over into the third period.
Mikko Rantanen PPG
Tyson Jost A
Samuel Girard A
Despite starting the period with the power play, it was nothing doing. Columbus began finding some more chances on Bernier, including Lukas Sedlak who fired on the doorstep. Bernier tossed aside nine shots inside the first five minutes.
Colorado nearly added to the lead when a high shot by Blake Comeau bounced back in off the glass behind Bobrovsky. Comeau was able to get a stick in the paint to deflect the puck, and Bobrovsky, with a quick dart to his left, made the pad save.
The Jackets opened up a 14-1 shots advantage midway through the third, and 16 of 17, but could not beat Bernier. It just felt like a kooky bounce was going to be the difference for either side. The score remained 1-0 through to the very end when Matt Nieto wristed the empty netter. Bobrovsky, halfway to the bench, tried to make a diving stop the other way but he was too far out.
Columbus threw the kitchen sink at Bernier in the third period but the offense failed to convert for the second time in three games. Even with 34 shots on net, they were 0-for-3 on the power play, and Colorado’s special teams was the difference. Not much else to say. It took one breakthrough, and two on-point goaltenders stifled the offenses.
Bernier, in for Semyon Varlamov who remains sidelined with a lower-body muscular injury, picked up his second shutout of the season. Colorado is on their first four-game winning streak since Jan. 18-23, 2016.
Matt Nieto EN
Nathan MacKinnon A
Mikko Rantanen A
Columbus heads home to face the Florida Panthers Sunday at 5:00 p.m. ET.