Johansen’s OT goal lifts Jackets past Coyotes
Over their 13 seasons, the Columbus Blue Jackets have wilted at the finish a lot of times.
They did again on Tuesday night, giving up a tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation.
But they more than made up for it later.
Ryan Johansen took a stretch pass from James Wisniewski and scored on a wrist shot at 3:33 of overtime to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, tying a franchise record for wins.
"It could have been one of those `oh-no moments,’" Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said of the Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s tying goal with just 14.6 seconds left in regulation.
"But credit to the guys. We went out and found a way to win."
When Johansen, a 21-year-old, notched his 32nd goal, a roaring crowd of 16,289 was so loud it was deafening.
"I was sitting on the bench just admiring it," Johansen said with a grin. "It was loud. It was pretty cool to watch. It’s great we could finish it out for them and make them even happier."
Not only did Johansen’s goal provide the Blue Jackets’ 41st victory to match their most, but it also pushed them even closer to a spot in the playoffs.
They retain the second wild-card spot in the East and moved just two points back of third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division.
"It was huge for us," said Blake Comeau, who had given the Blue Jackets a 3-2 lead with just over 6 minutes left. "Everyone knew how important these points are this time of year. We could let off the gas and gotten down on ourselves after that late goal. But the guys did a great job of rallying."
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.
Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves, Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu also had goals and Artem Anisimov added two assists for Columbus, which heads out on the road to close the regular season.
"We go on this three-game road trip now feeling a little better about our game and ourselves," Johansen said.
The Blue Jackets had taken a 3-2 lead with 6:18 left when Comeau pulled up on a rush and snapped off a shot from the top of the left circle that got past goalie Thomas Greiss.
"I just tried to fire it on net, to be honest, as hard as I could," Comeau said.
With the crowd cheering every play down the stretch, the Coyotes silenced them by tying it. Ekman-Larsson circled at the point and ripped a shot that flew through heavy congestion in front to get past a surprised Bobrovsky.
"(Mike Ribeiro) got it up to me and I just walked the line and tried to shoot the puck and I was lucky it went in," Ekman-Larsson said after his 15th of the season.
After a Phoenix turnover, Wisniewski sent a long pass to Johansen who raced in from the left wing with one defender back and tucked a hard wrist shot inside the far post against Greiss, who had 26 saves.
"It was a roller-coaster," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Our effort was really strong. Our execution, well, it was a choppy game. A team would turn over the puck and the other team would score and get the advantage."
Martin Erat and Shane Doan also had goals for the Coyotes, who have lost five in a row (0-2-3). They came in with 86 points, just a point back of Dallas which holds the second wild-card spot in the West.
"It was a nice shot by their guy," Doan said. "This is a tough place to play. Bobrovsky is a great goalie. They have some great young players who go to the net hard and they play hard. We wanted to find ways to get to the net and we did. We just needed to make one more play."
In the end, Columbus got the puck onto the stick of the right guy.
"We got one of our most talented players in a position to make a play," Richards said. "And he made the play."
Notes: After the game, Columbus left for a game at Dallas on Wednesday for the resumption of a suspended game from last month, then will play back-to-back games at Tampa Bay and Florida on Friday and Saturday. … Nathan Horton played one shift in the second period for the Blue Jackets after missing four games and then left with an apparent recurrence of a 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). … Erat has 17 goals and 42 assists in 62 career games against Columbus.