Letestu OT goal lifts Columbus past Anaheim
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mark Letestu set up the only goal in regulation and scored the game-winner in overtime, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 30 shots on Sunday to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
The victory improved the Blue Jackets to 9-0-3 in their last 12 games at Nationwide Arena and gave them points in 15 of their last 17 games (10-2-5) to crawl into playoff contention in the West.
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Emerson Etem had the only goal for the Pacific Division-leading Ducks, who had lost four in a row until winning 2-1 in Chicago on Friday night.
The game pitted two of the NHL’s hottest teams over the past few weeks. The Ducks came in 16-5-3 for 35 points in their last 24 games, while the Blue Jackets were 9-2-5 over their last 16 to climb from 30th in the league to the middle of the playoff hunt.
Nikita Nikitin settled a high pass from rookie Dalton Prout at the right boards, then slid a pass to Letestu at the left circle. Letestu collected the pass and then beat goalie Jonas Hiller with a forehand on his stick side for the winner with 1 minute left in overtime.
Columbus was playing its third game in four nights and Anaheim its third on a four-game road trip. It showed it, with neither team taking advantage of opportunities.
With the score tied at 1 with 7:30 left in regulation, Luca Sbisa was robbed on two chances. Bobrovsky got a piece of his first shot, but it floated behind him and off the post. The Ducks continued to push the action and Sbisa then had a big one-timer from the left point that Bobrovsky smothered.
With just over 5 minutes remaining in the third, the puck luck went the other way. This time, Nikitin’s slap shot from the blue line bounced off the crossbar and Hiller ended up sitting on it.
Down 1-0, Anaheim pulled even 5:55 into the third thanks to the largesse of the Blue Jackets.
Columbus’ Adrian Aucoin failed to clear and R.J. Umberger had the puck near the side wall, but had it taken by Bryan Allen. Andrew Cogliano then fed Etem, who waded in and tucked a wrister inside the near post past Bobrovsky.
After a shot by the Ducks’ Corey Perry from the high slot clanged off the crossbar early in the second period, the Blue Jackets opened the scoring.
Letestu fired the puck wide of the cage and it bounded off the back boards to Brassard at the left doorstep. Hiller had it pinned between his right skate and the near post, but Brassard punched it into the net with two whacks.
Fans thought the Blue Jackets had scored just 23 seconds in when the cannon, which is fired after each Columbus goal, was fired and the music which usually accompanies a home goal was played. But Letestu’s shot from the slot went off Hiller’s back and the ricocheted off the post.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets placed LW Nick Foligno on injured reserve (upper body) and recalled C Nick Drazenovic from Springfield, Mass. (AHL). … Umberger left with a bloody nose late in the second after taking a push to the face from Anaheim D Sheldon Souray. He did return. … Ducks’ ageless RW Teemu Selanne (actually 42 years, 8 months) came in with 21 goals and 20 assists in 37 career games against Columbus.