Saturday night in Nashville, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators hosted a battle of the goalies in a contest so tight it seemed the goalie who cracked first would also be the one to lose the game.
Predictions came true as Columbus’ Artem Anisimov scored his 19th goal of the season with less than seven minutes of regulation time left, leading the Blue Jackets to a 1-0 win over the Predators. While Anisimov’s goal was the shot heard round Columbus, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was once again the real star of the game.
Stopping all 28 shots Nashville struck at him, Bobrovsky used his Veznia Trophy winning talent to keep his team in the game amidst a slow Blue Jackets start. The term “slow” was specifically defined by Nashville out-shooting Columbus 11-1 within the first 11 minutes of the game.
Bobrovsky’s momentum on Saturday was a complete 180 turnaround from the Jackets’ 6-1 crushing on Thursday night against the Stanley Cup defending Chicago Blackhawks, where Bobrovsky was eventually pulled from the game.
The Blue Jackets are not without a solid offense in the likes of Ryan Johansen, who leads the team with 25 goals this season, Cam Atkinson, RJ Umberger and rookie Boone Jenner. But as was evidenced by the comparison of tonight’s game against Thursday’s, if Columbus wants to make a run for the playoffs, Bobrovsky will need to be the man who leads them there. Luckily for the Blue Jackets, he is absolutely capable.
The win brings Columbus to a tie with the Detroit Red Wings at 71 points for the last wild card spot into the Eastern Conference playoffs. With only five weeks left before those spots are locked in and the postseason is up and running, the Blue Jackets have little to no room for error.
While the Columbus Twitter account posted a picture of a photo-shopped Bobrovsky head driving a school bus loaded with cartoon characters and the caption, “All aboard” in fun, the reality of the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes are not far from this message — it’s Bobrovsky or bust.