As it is with any team, good goaltending leads to good results. That was borne out Saturday in the Columbus Blue Jackets season opening tilt against division rival Nashville. New #1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was solid stopping 32 of 34 shots in regulation and OT before besting five of six Predators in the shootout.
Derick Brassard tallied the shootout winner in the sixth round while D Fedor Tyutin assisted on both Blue Jackets regulation goals.
Artem Anisimov wasted no time impressing new head coach with his ability as he potted the game-tying goal in the second period and recorded the first marker in the shootout.
Here’s head coach Todd Richards talking about the big center acquired from the Rangers in the Rick Nash deal.
"Anisimov, one thing I learned about him is that he has a pretty good backhand," Richards said. "I just learned that tonight. Really impressed with his game, big strong, did a lot of good things throughout."
One of the areas I feel the Jackets need to improve in to remain competitive this year is killing penalties. Columbus was the worst penalty-killing squad in the NHL a year ago and they are off to a rough start this year as well. The Predators cashed in on their only man-advantage opportunity Saturday night with Ryan Ellis tallying late in period one to put Nashville up 2 – 1.
Seeing Bobrovsky play so well had to have been a treat for Columbus fans that haven’t seen consistently good goaltending in a few seasons. Nonetheless this was just one game and Bobrovsky needs to prove he can handle the everyday load before anyone here gets too excited.
Up next for the Jackets is the home-opener against what should be an angry Red Wings team. The Wings were hammered by the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, 6 – 0. The Wings are a veteran team laden with talent and used to winning a lot of games. I imagine they will be ready for tonight and expect a bounce-back effort from them.
The Jackets will ice the same crew as played Saturday and according to Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch, Sergei Bobrovsky was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate. That is usually an indicator that he will get the call in net again.
It’s nice to be 1 – 0 but this club has a long way to go to get to where they want to be. Tonight should prove to be quite the challenge and it will be interesting to see how this Blue Jackets team reacts to an angry and motivated Red Wings club.