COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — In the third period, the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets came down to goaltenders — one making his first NHL start and the other a Vezina Trophy-winning veteran.
It was fun to watch. Both performed admirably, even spectacularly, in a scoreless final period, enabling the Blue Jackets to hang on to a 2-1 lead and beat the Devils on Thursday night.
Sergei Bobrovsky, the Columbus netminder, covered the just outside the goal line at least twice and stopped all five shots after New Jersey pulled its goalie for an extra skater with two minutes left, making the last of 29 stops as the final horn sounded. Half of those saves came in the third period.
“He keeps us in games, and we count on him in big situations,” said Columbus winger Cam Atkinson, who scored on a penalty shot early in the second period. “You need your best players to be your best players, and he stepped up big time again for us tonight.”
Mackenzie Blackwood, recalled from Binghamton of the AHL after starter Cory Schneider went on injured reserve with an abdominal strain, had an inauspicious start but found his footing. He finished with 36 saves and kept the Devils in it.
“As the game wore on, he continued to get better, and I thought our team did also,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said.
Taylor Hall scored for New Jersey, his 200th career NHL goal. The Devils have lost two straight and five of the last six (1-3-2).
“To be honest, it’s pretty disheartening when you do play well and you’re not able to get a win, especially for a guy like Mackenzie who is coming in and playing his first game and played so well,” Hall said. “We found our game and played well and forced the issue at the front of the net but couldn’t get that equalizer.”
The Blue Jackets won their second straight and ended a six-game homestand on a high note. They are 3-2-1 in that stretch and hung on to second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind Washington.
Columbus victimized Blackwood 4:17 into the game. Foligno camped out just to the right of the net, waited for a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois and tapped in a stunningly easy goal while Blackwood leaned the other way.
Atkinson poked the puck between Blackwood’s pad and the post on a penalty shot early in the second, awarded because New Jersey’s Damon Severson hooked Atkinson on a breakaway.
Hall went over the top of a diving Bobrovsky on a breakaway later in the second to make it a 2-1 game.
NOTES: New Jersey F Marcus Johansson left the game with an injury in the second period and didn’t return. Hynes said he didn’t know Johansson’s condition. … Columbus F Artemi Panarin returned after sitting out Monday’s game with an unspecified injury. … Atkinson has 20 goals in six straight seasons, the second Blue Jackets player to do that. Rick Nash did it eight straight times from 2003 to 2012. … Blackwood became the sixth goalie in NHL history to face a penalty shot in his first NHL start. … Devils D Steven Santini played his first game since Oct. 20 when he broke his jaw against Philadelphia. … With an assist on Foligno’s goal, Dubois has seven goals and 11 assists in his last 18 games. … Hall has 10 points in in his last nine games.
Devils: Hosts Ottawa on Friday night.
Blue Jackets: At Philadelphia on Saturday.
This story has been corrected to show that Bobrovsky had 29 saves, not 30.
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