Blue Jackets leaning heavily on Bobrovsky: 'He's our best player'

<p ><p >Goalies who allow four goals aren't usually credited as the reason games are won, as <span >Sergei Bobrovsky</span > was Sunday night at Capital One Arena.</p ><p >Then again, goalies don't usually face 58 shots in a game, as Bobrovsky did in the Blue Jackets' 5-4 overtime win against the Washington Capitals, giving them a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series.</p ><p ><span >Matt Calvert</span >'s one-handed flick of <span >Zach Werenski</span >'s rebound ended the game 12:22 into OT, sparking a celebratory "doggy pile," but it was Bobrovsky's 54-save night that was, rightfully, barked about afterward.</p ><p >"Certainly, right off the top, that is probably one of the best goaltending performances I've seen in quite a while, with 'Bob,'" Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It certainly gives us an opportunity to stay in the game, and when they surged, he made some huge saves at key times."</p ></p ><p ><p ><span ><code data-tlink="https://www.nhl.com/bluejackets/fans/playoff-home?partnerId=cbj-web-int-com-art-playoff18home" >VISIT THE BLUE JACKETS STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB</code ></span ></p ><p >The Capitals certainly surged, several times, but none greater than what they did in the third period. Aided by four power plays, Washington rung up a massive 21-5 shot advantage in the period, eventually tying the game, 4-4, on T.J. Oshie's power-play goal with 3:35 left in regulation.</p ><p >That was the last goal the Capitals scored, though, as Bobrovsky stopped the next nine shots he faced, leading up to Calvert's goal. He set a franchise-record for saves in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, finished with the most saves he's ever made in any type of NHL game and sent a reminder to the rest of the league that a two-time Vezina Trophy winner still tends goal in Columbus.</p ><p >That part was being overlooked as this postseason began, because of Bobrovsky's previous playoff experience. His numbers from postseasons past were in stark contrast to what he's done during the regular season, so he was branded a potential liability entering the playoffs this year.</p ><p ><span ><code data-tlink="https://www.nhl.com/video/c-59913703&quot; >Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Bobrovsky denies Stephenson in OT</code ></span ></p ><p >"I would say your career is a journey and you learn some things here and there," Bobrovsky said. "It doesn't matter what's in the past. We're we're going to play [Game 3], it doesn't matter what happen [in Game 2]. Each moment is huge right now and you just have to be ready."</p ><p >In the first two games, 'Bob' was definitely ready. He looked like his regular-season self in both games, but especially Sunday night.</p ><p >Columbus was outshot 19-8 in the first period, but Bobrovsky held the Jackets in the game with 17 saves - allowing captain <span >Nick Foligno</span > to make a pinpoint stretch pass to <span >Cam Atkinson</span > for a breakaway goal that cut the Capitals' 2-0 lead in half with 1:35 left in the period.</p ><p >He made 12 more saves in the second, when Columbus scored three goals to take a 4-3 lead and then saved 20 of 21 in the third. In OT, Bobrovsky stopped all six shots Washington put on net, including four in a row prior to Werenski's shot that led to Calvert's goal.</p ><p >In all, three of the four goals that got by Bobrovsky were scored on power plays, including two by Alex Ovechkin, and the lone 5-on-5 goal Washington scored was off a great tipped shot by Jay Beagle, who opened the scoring 2:12 into the game.</p ><p >Bobrovsky had no chance to stop to that one, after Beagle tipped a point shot through defenseman <span >Markus Nutivaara</span >'s legs and into the far side of the net.</p ><p >Otherwise, the Jackets' netminder made a slew of saves to either keep them in the game or preserve that one-goal lead for most of the third.</p ><p ><span ><code data-tlink="https://www.nhl.com/video/c-59907103&quot; >Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Bobrovsky denies Eller twice</code ></span ></p ><p >Bobrovsky could have an entire highlight package based solely off his effort in Game 2, and it would be difficult to decide which saves to include. There were so many good ones, they started to just mix together by the time it got to overtime.</p ><p >Just to name a few:</p ><ul ><li >Less than 10 minutes into the game, the Blue Jackets were outshot 8-1 during a five-minute stretch that followed Beagle's goal. Bobrovsky kept it 1-0 by stopping all eight shots, including two in a row - one second apart - by Lars Eller.</li ></ul ><ul ><li >Late in the second period, with the game tied 3-3, the Capitals' Evgeny Kuznetsov hit Nicklas Backstrom with a cross-ice feed from the half wall to the left-wing circle to set up a great scoring chance. Bobrovsky read the play, tracked the puck, slid over and soaked it up, catching the puck in his glove after stopping it with his chest. Not long afterward, Werenski put Columbus ahead, 4-3, with a power-play goal of his own.</li ></ul ><ul ><li >Early in the third, Ovechkin stole the puck on a forecheck and broke in alone against Bobrovsky, looking for the tying goal. He deked to the backhand, but Bobrovsky moved laterally with him, going left to right in the crease to knock the puck away with his blocker, keeping Columbus in front, 4-3.</li ></ul ><ul ><li >Nearly seven minutes after stonewalling Ovechkin on the doorstep, Bobrovsky turned a lucky break into another great stop. Washington's Alex Chiasson tipped another shot off the left post, inches from tying the game, and the puck dropped into the crease. Bobrovsky, sprawled in the blue paint, on his stomach, felt it slide into his left skate and glide back into the middle of the crease unprotected. Instinctively, he whipped his glove around behind him and covered it up, again keeping the Jackets in front by a goal.</li ></ul ><p ><span ><code data-tlink="https://www.nhl.com/video/c-59908903&quot; >Video: CBJ@WSH, Gm2: Bobrovsky stops Oshie with the glove</code ></span ></p ><p >There was also luck involved in keeping John Carlson's shot from scoring with 21 seconds left in regulation, when the puck clanked off the left post, but goalies often feel like they earn those bounces with how they play the rest of the game.</p ><p >Bobrovsky certainly earned his Sunday night, giving the whole team a boost.</p ><p >"It energizes our bench," Calvert said. "One example [is] that one save on Ovechkin in the third period there, on a breakaway in a tight game. It allows us to be resilient, it allows us to go over the boards and play and block shots for him and play that much harder for him. He's our best player and he was our best player by a mile [Sunday]. We've got to make it a little easier on him, but we'll figure that out."</p ><p >One thing they don't need to worry about is their goalie, which is a scary thought for the rest of the playoff field.</p ><p >"[Sunday's] game, we were outplayed for a lot of the minutes, but we had a goalie to give us a chance," Tortorella said. "Then we found a way to get it done. Those are all good things to help you with your mindset, as far as knowing you can get it done."</p ></p >

Goalies who allow four goals aren't usually credited as the reason games are won, as Sergei Bobrovsky was Sunday night at Capital One Arena.

Then again, goalies don't usually face 58 shots in a game, as Bobrovsky did in the Blue Jackets' 5-4 overtime win against the Washington Capitals, giving them a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series.

Matt Calvert's one-handed flick of Zach Werenski's rebound ended the game 12:22 into OT, sparking a celebratory "doggy pile," but it was Bobrovsky's 54-save night that was, rightfully, barked about afterward.

"Certainly, right off the top, that is probably one of the best goaltending performances I've seen in quite a while, with 'Bob,'" Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It certainly gives us an opportunity to stay in the game, and...

Columbus feeling bullish about 'Bob' after franchise-record performance in Game 2.

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