Improved Blue Jackets get stern test in Golden Knights
The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to complete a three-game sweep of their western road trip on Saturday night when they face the defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Blue Jackets, who are 16-9-1 on the road this season, moved into a third-place tie in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night in Glendale, Ariz.
That victory came two nights after a 6-3 decision over the Colorado Avalanche to start the trip and snap a five-game losing streak.
"We're just focused on our game," said center Boone Jenner, who had a goal and an assist against the Coyotes. "Not looking ahead, not looking behind. We came in here and did the job. We've got one more game on this road trip and have got to close it out the right way."
"It's definitely big," added right wing Josh Anderson, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in Arizona and also had an assist. "I think we needed to get on the road and have a couple of strong games here."
Special teams have played a key part in the recent turnaround for Columbus. Anderson's goal, his third in four games, came on the power play following a deflection off Seth Jones' point blast. The Blue Jackets also killed all three penalties and have now killed 37 of their 38 penalties going back to New Year's Eve.
"We're just playing hard," defenseman David Savard said. "Obviously Bob (goalie Sergei Bobrovsky) made some key saves on the (penalty kill) too. We need everybody to be going on the PK and we've just been doing a good job."
Bobrovsky had 29 saves against Arizona in picking up his 21st victory of the season. One of those wins came in the first meeting with the Golden Knights on Dec. 17 in Columbus when he made 28 saves in a 1-0 victory, one of his two shutouts for the season.
Vegas, which is seven points behind first-place Calgary and five points behind second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division, begins a four-game homestand against the Blue Jackets and a stretch where it will play eight of the next nine at home.
The Golden Knights snapped a franchise-record four-game regular-season losing streak with back-to-back road wins at Tampa Bay (3-2 in a shootout) and 4-3 at Detroit on Thursday night.
"Every game is important," coach Gerard Gallant said. "We have eight of the next nine are at home and we've got to make sure we're ready to play. We usually play really good in our building so they're real important (games) and hopefully we can gain a lot of points over the next eight or nine games."
The Golden Knights, who were 29-10-2 at home in the regular season during their remarkable run to a Pacific Division title in their inaugural season, are 16-6-3 this season at T-Mobile Arena but have dropped their last two contests there to Nashville (2-1) and Minnesota (4-2).
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019