Blue Jackets get key win

Published 2:56 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ryan Johansen took a stretch pass from James Wisniewski and scored on a wrist shot at 3:33 of overtime to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, tying a franchise record for wins.

Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves, Blake Comeau, Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu also had goals and Artem Anisimov added two assists for the Blue Jackets.

It was their 41st victory to match their most in their 13 seasons.

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent the game to overtime with a goal with just 14.6 seconds left in regulation, and Martin Erat and Shane Doan also had goals for the Coyotes, who have lost five in a row (0-2-3).

After a Phoenix turnover, Wisniewski sent a long pass to Johansen who raced in from the left wing with one defender back and netted a hard wrist shot that beat Thomas Greiss, who had 26 saves, inside the far post.

The Blue Jackets had taken a 3-2 lead with 6:18 left when Comeau pulled up on a rush and fired a snap shot from the top of the left circle that got past Greiss.

With a crowd of 16,289 roaring on every play, the Coyotes silenced them by tying it late in regulation. Ekman-Larsson circled at the point and ripped a shot that flew through heavy congestion in front to get past a surprised Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets improved to 41-31-7, matching the victory total set in 2008-09 — the only time the club has made the playoffs.

Phoenix came in with 86 points and just a point back of Dallas, which holds the second wild-card spot in the West. Columbus began the game holding the second wild-card spot in the East and just two points behind third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division.

The Coyotes were well rested, not having played since Friday night, while the Blue Jackets were playing the first game of two back-to-backs in five days to close out the regular season.

The Coyotes dominated the first period, even though the Blue Jackets got on the board first.

On the second shot of the game, Jenner took a pass from Nathan Horton in the high slot and found the net on a wrist shot at the 8:15 mark for his 15th of the season.

Horton had missed the past four games with a lower-body injury.

Phoenix matched that goal after a review. Kyle Chipchura was surrounded by four Blue Jackets in a wild scrum but Erat got a stick on the puck and pushed it just over the goal line at the 13:32 mark. The goal was waved off initially by referee Wes McCauley, but Erat was credited after a review when it became clear the puck had clearly crossed the line.

Erat has long bedeviled the Blue Jackets. He has 17 goals, 42 assists and 59 points in 62 career games against Columbus.

Late in the period, the Coyotes scored again when they got the puck deep. Michael Stone’s shot from the right point appeared to deflect off the stick of Johansen with Doan collecting his 21st by netting the loose puck.

The Coyotes had 10 of the final 12 shots in the period. But the Blue Jackets picked up the pace in the second period.

They pulled even after a Coyotes turnover — although Doan’s pass did appear to take an odd bounce off the glass. Letestu ended up alone with the puck in the high slot and scored on a wrister at the 5:25 mark.

That tied it at 2 heading into the third period.

Notes: Columbus heads out on a season-ending three-game road trip at Dallas on Wednesday for the resumption of a suspended game from last month, then back-to-back games at Tampa Bay and Florida on Friday and Saturday. … Horton played one shift in the second period and then left with an apparent recurrence of his lower-body injury. … Phoenix RW Radim Vrbata assisted on Erat’s goal to reach 50 points in a season for the third time (’07-08, ‘11-12). … Columbus RW Jared Boll was a healthy scratch. He needs three penalty minutes to surpass Jody Schelley (1,025) as the franchise leader in penalty minutes.


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